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A. The National Park

Pico de Orizaba The site of the LMT is located only 7.3 km from the Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in Mexico. The area was declared a National Park, El Parque Nacional Pico de Orizaba, in 1937 to protect the native ecosystems. The project team carried out all the required Environmental Impact Studies, and a small portion of land was ceded by the National Park to INAOE for the construction of the telescope, on condition that the Institute undertake environmental restoration of the forest on the area through which the access road to the site has been built.

In Mexico there are several Protected Areas subject to special Management Programs for Conservation (MPC) that define the range of allowed activities. Since El Parque Nacional Pico de Orizaba is not yet under such a MPC, the LMT project has been working very closely with the environmental authorities and has been the driving force in a joint effort pursuing the development of a Management Program for Reforestration Project Conservation. This program must include reforestation, the restoration and conservation of native species, and the establishment of criteria for the operation and management within the Park. As the coordinator of this effort, the LMT project has shown that is not only interested in astronomical research, but also is actively willing to contribute to the conservation and restoration of the environment. Scientists from the Departments of Natural Resources Conservation and Anthropology at UMass Amherst are collaborating with colleagues from Mexican institutions to assist the LMT project in meeting its environmental goals. By ensuring that sound ecological and anthropological research is conducted and documented, it will be possible to generalize their findings and thus to allow the LMT to serve as a model for incorporating into future advanced technology projects the social, economic, and environmental concerns of the local area.

B. The LMT and the Local Communities

Ciudad Serdán Fair Ciudad Serdán is the largest town close to the LMT site. It is the Regional Center with a population of about 34,000 inhabitants. An LMT exhibition has been held annually since 2004 during the city's August fair. The response has been overwhelming. The exhibition in Ciudad Serdán included many photographic images of the construction site, a huge LMT scale model, posters, and videos and scientific films. There was also a section dedicated to children, who made their own models of a radio telescope and the NASA space shuttle Atlantis with scissors, paper and glue; and a table where the children and their parents could see interesting physics experiments and big magnetic puzzles of planets.

astronomy in the local primary school The project is planning to have a Visitor Center in one of the towns near the summit, similar to the information centers that are so successful at large telescope facilities such as Arecibo and Green Bank. The main goal is to educate people about astronomy and the LMT, including the project's importance in Mexico, the U.S., and worldwide, the challenges involved in its design and construction, and the expected scientific results. We anticipate that there will be exhibitions and special activities. Once the telescope is in operation, there will be explanations of the astronomical discoveries that will take place. School trips to the Visitor Center will be organized, both to create programs for teachers and to develop educational programs that will benefit the wider community.

C. Outreach at UMass

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, also hopes to make use of this highly visible bi-national project to develop an educational outreach program in Western Massachusetts. The program is aimed at reaching middle and high school students of Hispanic background, attracting the most talented of them to UMass to work in the LMT and other laboratories, and mentoring them throughout their undergraduate careers. The mix of US and Mexican scientists, engineers and students should provide a rich set of resources from whom they can draw both information and inspiration.

Educational Benefits

In the long term perhaps the most important dimension of the UMass/ INAOE partnership involves the human element.

UMass Heterodyne Lab LMT is a research facility which symbolizes the intent of both Mexico and the United States to explore at the frontiers of human knowledge. The commitment to undertake such explorations is critical to firing the imagination of young people in both countries. Some of them will choose careers in science and engineering, and it is in their hands that the economic health and vitality of both societies rests.

Partnerships like the LMT thus represent the future - one in which institutions in the US, Mexico and other countries work in close partnership to develop the tools of modern science, the technologies of tomorrow, and tomorrow's scientific and technical leaders.

As a consequence, the two institutions place great emphasis on the educational aspects of the collaboration. In addition to training the astronomers who will use the LMT, both UMass and INAOE are independently developing much broader programs focused on the LMT, but aimed at providing education in applied physics and engineering - fields of critical value to the students and to their nations.