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Migrating Birds Link Ashland, Ore., and Guanajuato, Mexico

Ashland and Guanajuato, Mexico, have developed cultural and people-to-people ties since becoming sister cities 47 years ago.  For thousands of years before that, migratory birds from the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion have connected the two cities by spending their winters in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Oriental.

A Klamath Bird Observatory publication says, “Like the mountain habitats that surround them, these two cities are linked by the migratory birds … that breed during the summer in the forests that surround Ashland (and) can be seen in habitats around the city of Guanajuato during the winter.”

The observatory says both Ashland and Guanajuato depend on tourist and cultural attractions for economic stability; Ashland has the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Guanajuato has its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation and International Cervantino Festival.

The observatory says, “Like their shared birds, these communities also depend on the long-term ecological health of their two bioregions.”  Clearing the pine-oak and cloud forests in Western Mexico and unsustainable timber cutting and fire suppression in Ashland’s surrounding forests threaten the cities’ economies and bird survival.

The observatory warns that sustainable futures for the Sister Cities and the migratory birds will depend on mutual protection of the environment.

Source: Kilby, Annie T., and John D. Alexander. Shared Birds of Ashland and Guanajuato: Conservering our Natural and Cultural Heritage. Version 1.0 ed. Ashland, Ore.: Klamath Bird Observatory, 2012. 1-9. Print.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.