National Geographic : 1991 Aug
Geographic a Census Finds a New Major California City In California these days, big cities are born in less than a decade. Moreno Valley in southern California's Riverside County had a mere 28,120 people in 1980. More than 90,000 new residents later-an increase of 322 percent-it has 500 miles of streets, supports two school systems, and has joined the ranks of what the U. S. Census Bureau calls "major cities"-those with popula tions topping 100,000. The 1990 census emphasizes Cali fornia's position as the fastest grow ing state. Six of the ten major U. S. cities with the most rapid growth are within its borders: Rancho Cuca monga, Escondido, Oceanside, Ba kersfield, Fresno, and Chula Vista expanded by more than 60 percent. The losing cities in the population sweepstakes are mostly in the Mid west and East. Detroit's population dropped by 14.6 percent, Chicago's by 7.4, Baltimore's by 6.4, and Philadelphia's by 6.1. And five cities lost their places on the major-city roster: Columbia, South Carolina; Davenport, Iowa; Pueblo, Colo rado; Roanoke, Virginia; and Youngstown, Ohio. Helping Mexican Indians and Rain Forest Too The Lacandona, Mexico's largest remaining tropical rain forest, lies on the Guate mala border. It holds about 400 Lacandon Indians, whose territory has shrunk as land-starved settlers have poured in (NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, October 1985). The Indians won exclusive use of their traditional lands from the Mexican government in 1972. But they sold their mahogany trees to a state sawmill, which hastened the demise of the forest until the mill Cii closed in 1989. In the past 30 years the pop ulation in the area has swelled from 10,000 to 150,000. The incoming farmers have diminished the fertility of the soil by relying on slash-and burn practices. Now their corn fields and cattle pastures are pushing into the 815,000-acre DAVIDL. BRILL Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, a nationally protected area in the heart of the Lacandona. To preserve this isolated region, Mexico has approved the funneling of almost a million dollars to a research station to promote less destructive - and more productive agricultural methods as well as bet ter ways to protect the forest's diverse plant and animal life. "It's a beachhead from which we can help the people sustain their livelihood while we all work to save the forest," says Martin Goebel of Conservation International, a non profit group that helped initiate the program and continues to support it.