Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dunes restoration; International Water Day; Another victory over light contamination

Pictures: students from the "City and Ecology" course in a guided tour of the ecosystem; Capetillo community will be able to sell their Capetillo Vegetable Garden products at Plaza las Américas Kiehl's store; Light contamination at La Concha hotel; "Addicts in Rehabilitation" Program helping restore Piñone's dunes.

Our update for March 15, 2011 to March 25, 2011 is as follows:

San Juan Bay Estuary participates in International Water Day: Gladys Rivera, with our Estuary Guardian teacher Yiria Muñiz and her students, were profiled by a local newspaper as they were celebrating World Water Day. This year’s theme was “Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge.” Both Gladys and Yiria were interviewed as they were performing water quality analysis in the Condado Lagoon. They emphasized the importance of this activity for the improvement of the San Juan Bay Estuary. To view the article at El Nuevo Día newspaper, please follow this link:

Javier Laureano profiled in El Vocero Who’s Who: El Vocero, one of the leading newspapers on the island, published a full-page interview with Javier Laureano in its Sunday edition on March 20, 2011. The Executive Director emphasized the Condado Lagoon restoration, as well as voluntary contributions through tax returns before April 15, 2011.

Dunes restoration project begun: Sand dunes are unique ecosystems and provide the first protective barrier against storms, tsunamis, and coastal flooding. Puerto Rico has lost 90% of its northern dunes due to natural as well as human activities, such as using the dunes’ sand for construction. Only in 1968 did the government prohibit coastal and dune sand extraction, when almost all the dunes were gone. On Friday, March 25, 2011, from 8:30am to noon, participants from the Drug Court’s “Addicts in Rehabilitation” joined the Department and Natural Resources and the San Juan Bay Estuary Program in the first phase of the dunes restoration project in Piñones, one of the last dunes to survive Puerto Rico’s coastal sand extraction for construction. The activity was covered by El Nuevo Día newspaper (including video):

Kiehl’s joins us to promote several projects, including CAUCE’s Capetillo Community Vegetable Garden: L’Oreal Paris and its brand Kiehl’s announced on Wednesday, March 16, 2011, their commitment to the San Juan Bay Estuary Program. Beginning on April 6, L’Oreal will sell agricultural products from the Capetillo Vegetable Garden in its Kiehl’s store in the Plaza las Américas mall. On June 5, 2011, the company is organizing the Annual La Esparanza Cleanup and Planting in the San Juan Bay with us, and will sponsor the screening of Antonio Martorell’s documentary at Cine del Estuario. The Kiehl’s store is also promoting the enrollment of volunteers in our Program as well as donations through tax returns.

Estuary Guardians participant wins First Prize, now headed to San Diego, California: On March 18, 2011, Estuary Guardian Program participant Laura Roldán received the first prize for her Project entitled "New Treatment System for Runoff Water Using Natural Filters and Biomass Remnants." The National competition will be held in San Diego next April. In the local competition, two of the six finalists were students who adopted the SJBE as their laboratory motivated by our work with the Estuary Guardians Program. They will also be competing in the Discovery H2O competition on April 14. Congratulations to Laura and to Yiria Muñiz, teacher from the José Aponte de la Torre Specialized school in Carolina and Estuary Guardian Leader.

Condado Lagoon Restoration Outreach Meeting: Stakeholders and residents of the Condado Lagoon met at the SJBEP’s office for a presentation and discussion of all the restoration projects proposed and implemented for the Condado Lagoon. The following entities attended the meeting: (1) Condado Renace Inc, (2) CONVIVE, (3) the PR Tourist Company, and (4) Tetra Tech Consulting. The SJBEP staff discussed the benthic and seagrass restoration proposed for the Condado Lagoon and other ongoing projects, including Red mangrove planting, artificial reef deployments, and storm water management.

Open Brown Bag Workshop in the SJBE office: On Wednesday, March 23, during lunch time, Dr. Jorge Bauzá-Ortega presented a workshop about ‘unknown creatures’ of the San Juan Bay Estuary system. Information about the natural history of native and exotic species was discussed, as well as the conservation efforts made by the SJBEP and its partners for the preservation and restoration of critical habitats identified in the San Juan Bay estuary.

US Army Corps of Engineers from the Jacksonville District Planning Division meets with the SJBE staff regarding the Condado Lagoon restoration: Iván Acosta and Wilberto Cubero, from the USACE Jacksonville District Planning Division, discussed with the SJBE staff and Fernando Pagés from Tetra Tech the possibility of integrating the water quality improvement and seagrass restoration project at the Condado Lagoon into the San Juan Harbor compensatory mitigation. The general concept is to dredge and deposit the sediments from La Esperanza Peninsula into the Condado Lagoon with the support and overall lead from the Army Corps and its contractors. The meeting took place in March 18, 2011.

Another victory over coastal light contamination in the Condado area: This week Javier Laureano sent documentation of a severe case of light contamination from La Concha Hotel to executives of the hotel and the PR Tourism Company. La Concha told Laureano they will take action immediately to reduce or eliminate three very powerful light bulbs illuminating up to half a mile into the Atlantic Ocean and the Condado coastal area.

ENLACE Project makes the case for Martín Peña dredging: Believe it or not, there is a small sector of the population opposed to the filling of the San José Lagoon’s artificial depressions and the dredging of the Martín Peña Channel. The ENLACE Project went to the media to make the case in favor of this key project for the restoration of the San Juan Bay Estuary. There was an error in one of the quotes in the newspaper article, depicting the San Jose Lagoon as “dead” – with only bacterial life – when in fact only the bottoms of the artificial depressions in the Lagoon are in this condition. Please follow this link to read the article:




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