Rare gifts are nothing new
to Texas A&M University. Being
offered a rainforest, however, is.
Charles W. Soltis, a 1955 graduate of Texas A&M, is donating
a 250-acre rainforest in Costa Rica to the university, providing
a unique learning opportunity for Texas A&M students.
Soltis and his associate, Curt Clemenson, are beneficial owners
of the rainforest located in north central Costa Rica, known
as the “Casa Verde Reserve.” In addition, a 40-acre
site adjacent to the reserve and owned by Clemenson will also
be included in the donation. Casa Verde is north of San Jose,
the capital of Costa Rica.
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has authorized
Texas A&M President Robert M. Gates to negotiate the final
terms and conditions of the acceptance of the gifts.
The 40 acres will be purchased by Soltis who, at his own expense,
will construct a research and education facility. The facility
will include dorm rooms and bungalows for students, faculty
and staff, dining and conference facilities, classrooms, laboratories
“Mr. Soltis and Mr. Clemenson desire to make the Casa Verde
Reserve a model
for the studies of environmental sustainability and ecology,
not only in Latin America, but also in the world,” Gates
said. “The education, research and outreach activities
of Texas A&M University would be greatly enhanced with
access to the natural resources present at the Casa Verde Reserve,
the Monteverde Natural Reserve and Costa Rica.”
Students and faculty in the College of Architecture will assist
Soltis in the design of the facility.
Casa Verde sits at the foothills of the world-renowned Monteverde
Cloud Forest Reserve, an area widely acknowledged as one of
the most biologically significant tropical forest and tropical
plant and wildlife sanctuaries in the world.
More than 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens
of thousands of insect species, and 2,500 species of plants
can be found in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Interest in using Casa Verde for research, study abroad activities,
and student research field trips has already been expressed
by the Colleges of Architecture, Geosciences, Engineering,
Science, Education, Agriculture and Liberal Arts.
The College of Geosciences is looking into the possibility
of establishing a measuring facility to study landscape changes
In addition, faculty in the Department of Biology want to study
genetic evolution and DNA sequencing of rain forest plants,
while faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
are interested in studying the coexistence of a rain forest
with local agricultural development.
The reserve and facility will provide research opportunities
for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty of Texas
A&M, as well as students and professionals from other universities
and countries under programs facilitated by Texas A&M.
Soltis, who graduated from Texas A&M with a mechanical
engineering degree, has spent most of his life in the construction
business, including construction of facilities in Costa Rica.
Clemenson, who currently resides in Costa Rica, has been involved
in promoting environmental issues. He founded the Texas Rain
Forest Action Group and created and formed The Earth Foundation,
which in 1995 financed the largest private acquisition of land
for conservation, doubling the Noel Kempff Park in the Amazon
of Bolivia to more than 4.9 million acres, making it the size
Final acceptance of the gifts will not occur until the research
and educational facility is completed in accordance with plans
and specifications approved by the university.
Architecture students unveil designs for proposed
experiment station in Casa Verde, Costa Rica
Guillermo Vasquez-de-Velasco and Chris Ellis
in Casa Verde, Costa Rica
A survey team of aggie architecture students
at the site of the proposed research center in Casa Verde, Costa