Friday, January 28, 2011

Troy Wright/ Tax returns/ Isla de Cabras Cleanup/ Ecological Literacy Campaign

Photos: volunteers working at our cleanup and planting event at Isla de Cabras.

Our weekly update for January 23 to January 28, 2011, is as follows:

1. We welcome Scotiabank-Puerto Rico’s CEO to our Board of Directors: The Board of Directors of the Corporation for the Conservation of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program met yesterday, January 27, 2011, at the offices of our new Board member, Mr. Troy Wright, CEO of Scotiabank-Puerto Rico. Mr. Wright has over 22 years experience in the international banking and investment industry, and holds university degrees from the University of Western Ontario and from Harvard. He has served on the Board of Directors of several prestigious nonprofit organizations. In our meeting, Mr. Wright promoted the creation of a finance plan to better structure our non-federal income. Javier Laureano, in coordination with Board members, will draft the plan to be presented at the Board’s March meeting.

2. Now you can make a donation to the San Juan Bay Estuary Program in your tax returns: Yes! If you have wondered where exactly your tax money is going, now you can choose to make a donation for the improvement of the environment by supporting the extraordinary job the San Juan Bay Estuary Program is doing for our coastal ecosystems. Every cent counts; you can donate from one cent to whatever amount you chose. Just go to your Puerto Rico Tax Return, and in the Short Form look for page 3, line 22 (a), and on the Long Form look for page 2, line 40 (b). Now you know.

3. Melaleuca control project in the Suarez Canal, a pilot project for the Caribbean: Two years ago the San Juan Bay Estuary Program began the removal of a 4-acre stand of invasive species Melaleuca quinquenervia. Over 10,000 invasive trees were impacting a wetland located along one of the borders of the Suarez Canal in the Carolina Municipality. The removal project was a success, and the first of its kind done in Puerto Rico – and probably in the Caribbean. The project advanced the implementation of Action HW-16 of our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. As part of this year’s Work Plan, we will be performing maintenance efforts consisting of the manual removal of new seedlings and the application of wetland-safe herbicide. This action will prevent further recurrence of the invasion. In order to discuss the project scope, we conducted a site visit to the area with potential contractors. The following environmental consulting firms attended the site visit: Econet Solutions Inc., JC Environmental, and Ambienta, Inc. The deadline established for the proposal’s submission is February 7, 2010.

4. Caño Martín Peña Environmental Restoration Project: Dr. Jorge Bauzá represented the San Juan Bay Estuary Program in a key meeting on January 27, 2011, at 9:30 am, at ENLACE’s offices. The objective of the meeting was to explore several dredging material disposal alternatives. The consultants found new issues and possible solutions regarding the disposal of the dredging material in the artificial depressions of the San Jose Lagoon. The consultants discussed their findings, possible disposal alternatives, type and availability of capping material, and staging areas, among other topics. The following agencies and organizations were represented at the meeting: USEPA, NOAA, USACE, IDS, PBS&J, and the host, ENLACE.

5. Estuarine and Ecological Literacy Public Service Campaign: As part of a broad communications effort that will include comics, newspaper ads, TV ads, and a coloring book, 30 species of flora and fauna from the San Juan Bay Estuary watershed were selected as a good showcase of our ecosystem. Photos and information about the natural history of selected species were collected from multiple sources. As part of the initiative, the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) is providing, as an In Kind donation to the SJBEP, their education room, for conducting estuarine comic workshops with 12 students on April 9, 16, and 23, 2011.

6. Estuary Guardians, Platform for Science Fair Projects: Several of our Estuary Guardians students used their water quality monitoring experience with us as inspiration and learning grounds to complete their research projects for this year’s Science Fairs. One student, from the Escuela del Deporte de San Juan, worked on a comparison of the pH levels between the rain water of San Juan and that of the Cataño municipalities. The student found the acidity in Cataño's rain water higher than that of San Juan. The Colegio de la Congreación MITA students compared water quality from beaches along the northern and southern coasts of the Island, and the northern coast showed better water quality results. Our Outreach Coordinator, Gladys Rivera, was invited to participate in the Science Fairs of two schools as a judge. Congratulations to the teachers and students!

7. Estuary Guardians' Students Achievements: We are proud to inform you that Laura Roldan and Odemaris Carrasquillo, both Estuary Guardians students from the Sciences and Math Specialized School of Carolina (Pa’Los Duros), received recognition and several awards for their project entitled “Construction and integration of a design using biomass for runoff water purification.” They received the US Metric Association Award, the 2010 Regional Ricoh Sustainable Development Award, the Great 1st Award of the Regional Science Fair, and the Gran Premio de Asociación Interamericana de Ingeniería Sanitaria y Ambiental (AIDIS). They were also finalists for the Discovering H20 competition in Puerto Rico, and were invited to participate in Intel Isef 2010 in San Jose, California. Congratulations to Laura and Odemaris and to Estuary Guardian Leader Professor Yiria Guzmán!

8. Over 800 lbs. of debris removed from San Juan Bay at our cleanup in Isla de Cabras National Park: More than 60 volunteers participated in last Saturday’s cleanup and planting event. Girls Scouts, students from several schools in the Metropolitan Area, participants of the Liga Atlética Policiaca of San Juan, Caribe Hilton’s employees, and other citizens received an educational talk about the San Juan Bay Estuary and planted coastal trees species, including Almond Trees. Small children collaborated by planting white mangrove seedlings, and our volunteers picked up more than 800 pounds of debris from this western axis of the Bay. Gladys Rivera and Eddie Ramirez from the Caribe Hilton coordinated the event. Plants were provided by the Natural Resources and Environment Department’s nursery in Piñones.

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