Midway across the volcanic belt that marches across Mexico from the Pacific coast to the Gulf of Mexico, lie highlands of the state of Michoacán. These ancient mountains are home to large populations of indigenous people who eke a living from the forest and the land, important tourism destinations, and a cluster of the highest mountain tops are also the over-wintering site of millions of Monarch butterflies. By the time the butterfly sanctuaries had been defined for protection, much of the surrounding forest had been cleared for agriculture and economic support of the growing human population. La Cruz Habitat Protection Project began helping to restore depleted farm fields to forest in 1997, and continues today. The work expanded to the Highland Lakes area in 2008.