Friday, July 29, 2011

Scientific illustrations for the SJBEP; Over $500k in media leverage; Raw sewage overflow; 16k cigarette butts picked up at Ocean Park

Our update for July 15 to July 31, 2011, is as follows:

30 original scientific illustrations created for the SJBEP: Last Thursday, July 21st, 2011, Puerto Rico’s only certified scientific illustrator, Adriana Ocaña, delivered to Javier Laureano 30 full-color, hand-drawn illustrations commissioned by the SJBEP for our ecological alphabetization campaign. The illustrations of different species of fauna and flora representative of the SJBE’s ecosystem will be placed along the 1.5 miles of Martí Coll Lineal Park, in Hato Rey, as part of our new educational exhibit. Also, her designs will illustrate our upcoming coloring book on the importance of the Estuary.

The SJBEP surpasses half-a-million dollars in leverage for the first part of 2011: The numbers are in, and we are proud to announce that for the first part of the year 2011 the SJBEP has managed to obtain $509,225.36 in leverage. Our strong presence in the media is the result of a combined effort including several public service campaigns, the publication of various articles written by members of our staff, radio and television interviews, and media coverage of the SJBEP’s initiatives.

Raw sewage overflow in the Condado Lagoon: On July 29th, 2011, our Water Quality Program Coordinator, Ernesto Olivares, reported raw sewage overflow on the northern fringe of the Condado Lagoon. People from the community contacted local authorities due to the strong presence of raw sewage odors.

16,000 cigarette butts picked up in the Student Chapter of the Marine Environment Society’s Ocean Park cleanup: On July 23rd, 2011, the Student Chapter of the Marine Environment Society (CESAM, for its Spanish acronym) carried out a coastal cleanup in Ocean Park Beach. They targeted cigarette butts buried in the sand and were able to pick up 16,000 of them. A total of 104 volunteer took part in the cleanup.

SJBEP’s license plate sent to 78 municipalities, and federal agencies: In the first week of July, the Governor of Puerto Rico evaluated and approved the new design of the SJBEP’s license plate. The design, showcasing a manatee, was sent to the Island’s 78 municipalities and their police agencies, including the FBI, for registration. The job has already been placed with the Department of Correction, and is on its way to its final stage of fabrication.

Guided tour for the winners of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl: Last Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, our Water Quality Program coordinator, Ernesto Olivares, offered a guided tour to winners of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl from Marshfield High School. The trip took place in the Corozos, San José, and Torecillas lagoons. The students received a comprehensive explanation of the basic tools utilized in standard water quality inspections, and later they were able to assess water quality for themselves in three different stations of the SJBE.

EPA’s conference on citizen involvement: From the 18th to the 22nd of July, our outreach coordinator, Gladys Rivera, attended a seminar hosted by the EPA on special topics regarding citizen participation. Some of the key issues dealt with the workings of communicating ecological vulnerability and/or an environmental crisis to members of a given community.

Proposals for the upcoming SJBEP library catalogue: During the month of July we received several proposals for the elaboration of a digital catalogue for the SJBEP’s scientific library. The catalogue will be a useful tool that will help to make our bibliographic resources more accessible to the public. Some of the specialized books in the SJBEP’s library cannot be found anywhere else in Puerto Rico.

“Cool Cities Manual” climate change publication: On July 29th we received the Cool Cities Manual. The manual will be printed as part of our collaboration with the Cool Cities Coalition’s climate change campaign.

Friday, July 15, 2011

SJBEP in the Dominican Republic; 30 gallons of oil recycled; New educational exhibit; Financial Single Audit; Workshops

Educational exhibit proposed by the SJBEP for the Dos Hermanos Bridge.

Our update for July 6 to July 15, 2011, is as follows:

SJBEP in the Dominican Republic: The SJBEP has been invited to participate in the International Day of Mangroves in an activity organized by the Minister of the Environment of the Dominican Republic. Javier Laureano will present the organization’s work to promote public participation in its mangrove planting campaign and will take another step to further the Latin American Federation of Estuaries. The conference is set for July 25, 2011.

Results of SJBEP’s proposal to recycle campaign reviewed in newspaper, 30 gallons of oil recycled at 4th of July event: We want to thank the Office of the Governor and the Solid Waste Management Authority for their fine and rapid execution of our suggestion to recycle the cooking oil produced as part of the 4th of July celebrations. Follow the link for more information:

New educational exhibit for the Dos Hermanos Bridge designed and submitted to the Office of the Governor: Last Wednesday, July 13, 2011, Javier Laureano submitted to the Office of the Governor a new educational exhibit proposed for the Dos Hermanos Bridge. This is a unique spot where the public can experience first hand one of the Atlantic Ocean’s salt water intakes into the estuarine ecosystem.

Results of Financial Single Audit Report: We are very happy to announce that we have received another year of “no findings” in our annual Single Audit. We want to thank and congratulate our Office Manager, Cathy Ortiz, for her good bookkeeping job, as well as our CPA, Eduardo Fadhel, and our Compliance Coordinator, Zulma Sanabria.

SJBEP submits comments to USACE regarding a new pier at the San Juan Nautical Club: The organization submitted to the United States Corps of Engineers (USACE) its official comments regarding the public notice for permit application for the reconfiguration of the existing eastern pier section and the extension of the western “T” pier section. We recommended that the 0.19 acres of seagrass bed that will be directly impacted be salvaged and transplanted to an adequate alternate site. Also, the remaining 1.06 acres of seagrass beds in the area should be protected from possible impacts associated with this activity.

Workshop offered at the Santa Ana Environmental Interpretation Center: The Scientific Advisor offered a conference on the hydrological connection between the ground waters of the karst and the San Juan Bay Estuary on July 13, 2011. The activity was organized by the Outreach Coordinator and included a technical trip to this beautiful forest within the city. Approximately 20 volunteers participated in the activity.

Proposal to monitor and improve stormwater discharges into the Condado Lagoon: The SJBEP submitted to the San Juan Municipality a proposal to establish a network of stormwater monitoring stations along the Condado, Miramar, and Santurce. The proposal includes the installation of state-of-the-art equipment in the stormwater drainage system to filter oil and grease as well as other pollutants.

Estuary’s Cinema: On July 9, 2011, at 7:00pm. the organization presented another successful screening of its open air cinema project at the Condado Lagoon. On this occasion we screened several short film documentaries about mangroves as well as “The Simpsons: The Movie.”

“Sand, Sun, and Coral Reef” workshop: The SJBEP offered a workshop at the Isla Verde Coral Reef about this unique ecosystem on July 8, 2011, from 9:00am to 11:00am. We want to thank community leader Paco López for his support, and for receiving our staff and volunteers in his community.

Our First Estuarine Short Film Festival keeps receiving good press coverage: The electronic magazine reviewed the Festival:


July 23, 2011, at 7:00pm: The SJBEP presents “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” and local cartoon “Manny El Manatí” (“Manny the Manatee”) at the next screening of the Estuary’s Cinema, which will take place at the Jaime Benítez Condado Lagoon Park.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oil recycling, Short Film Festival, Melaleuca species, CCMP revision, Activity with NERR, National Ocean Policy

Our update for June 14 to June 30, 2011, is as follows:

SJBEP promotes oil recycling and planting conservation at 4th of July event: The Government of Puerto Rico celebrated the 4th of July on the fringes of the Condado Lagoon with several events, including concerts and the selling local food in kiosks that will be located on the southern axis of this estuarine body of water.

Javier Laureano contacted our partners in the Office of the Governor to promote an oil recycling campaign and received their immediate response. As a result, the Solid Waste Management Authority established oil-recycling centers as part of the event. The collected oil will be recycled as part of an initiative in the Jayuya Municipality, where used oil is transformed into biodiesel fuel for the agriculture industries of the island.

The Office of the Governor also authorized the SJBEP to design and place educational signs to protect the red mangrove (Rizophora mangle) planting sites of the organization located on the northern and eastern axis of the Condado Lagoon.

For more information about the biodiesel initiative follow this link:$2175millonesenjayuyaadjuntasyutuado-503405.html

Educational exhibit about the SJBE’s ecosystems to be placed on the Dos Hermanos Bridge: The newly constructed Dos Hermanos Bridge, located over one of the three saltwater inlets into the SJBE, will serve as an environmental interpretation site. We will be placing educational signs to inform the public about the importance of the area and the species that live in the zone. The initiative is being coordinated between the SJBEP and the Office of the Governor.

Success for our First Estuarine Short Film Festival: On Saturday, June 25, 2011, the SJBEP presented this event, which included the screening of seven environmental short films. Four of the films received an original work of art by Jorge Zeno as an award. Click here for detailed information:

The Melaleuca invasive species removal site under control: From June 20 - 23, 2011, wetland’s specialists contracted by the SJBE Program and our Scientific Advisor, Dr. Jorge Bauzá, performed maintenance activities at the Melaleuca invasive species removal site. We observed limited growth of Melaleuca seedlings and heavy growth of native herbaceous plants that will protect and enhance (as planned) the wetland associated with the Suárez Canal.

SJBEP participates in hearing session of the National Ocean Policy: Last Thursday, June 30, 2011, Dr. Jorge Bauzá participated in a virtual meeting in which top government officials from Washington, DC, explained President Obama’s plans to promote America’s stewardship of the oceans to representatives from the National Estuary Program. For more information please follow this White House link:

New actions for the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan of the San Juan Bay Estuary (CCMP): This week Javier Laureano revised 10 new actions submitted by contractors and sent them to the Program’s staff for further comments. The new CCMP actions will be discussed in public hearings and, after that, submitted to the Board of Directors for final approval. The original CCMP was published on August 4, 2000, and new urgent issues have emerged since then such as climate change, new invasive species, and the need to control pollution in the upper zone of the watershed and fresh water tributaries, among others.

Conservation and restoration project endorsements: On June 24, 2011, the SJBEP endorsed the designation of the Isla Verde Coral Reef Island as a marine sanctuary. This is an initiative proposed by the Isla Verde community. To date their nonprofit grassroots organization – Arrecifes Pro Ciudad – has gathered thousands of signatures in a petition letter to government representatives asking for this protective designation. The coral reefs of the Isla Verde Island are at risk due to Jet Ski and vessel impacts, as well as sedimentation and nonpoint source pollution. On June 26, 2011, the organization also endorsed the “Condado beach nourishment and artificial reefs infrastructure.” This is an initiative driven by community and business leaders of the area concerned about the serious erosion problem of this estuarine sandy beach.

New scientific newspaper article authored by our Scientific Advisor published in Puerto Rico and Argentina: A two-page article entitled “Biodiversity of the Oceans” was published by Dr. Jorge Bauzá on June 19, 2011, at El Nuevo Día newspaper. The article was also published by the Nuestromar Foundation, an ocean conservation and educational NGO from Argentina. The article can be read at:

Benthic restoration of the Condado Lagoon: The Quality Assurance Project Plan for the Condado Lagoon Water Quality Improvement and Seagrass Restoration Project was approved and signed on June 29, 2011, by Donal Ringel, QAPP evaluator and EPA Region 2 Quality Assurance Coordinator. We want to thank Evelyn Huertas for her support during the process.

Estuary educational talk at Isla de Cabras: On the sunny morning of June 14, 2011, in Isla de Cabras, Toa Baja, thirty-six people participated in an educational talk by SJBEP's Outreach Coordinator, Gladys Rivera. As part of the event, environmental games and water monitoring demonstrations were used to show the importance of protecting our estuary. At the end of the activity, kids were asked about the new word they learned that day — “estuary” — and its meaning, and almost all were able to answer correctly. A 75% of knowledge acquisition was measured among the adults through a pre- and post- test.

Joining efforts with our National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) sister organization: On June 29, 2011, twenty-six participants joined our Outreach Coordinator, Gladys Rivera, at the Jobos Bay’s Learning Center in Salinas. Nilda Peña and Angel Dieppa from the Education and Scientific areas of the Reserve offered an educational talk, which highlighted the differences between the SJBE and the Jobos Bay ecosystems, with special emphasis on fresh water sources. During the educational guided tour through the reserve, the group visited a salt and mud flat, a mangrove channel, and enjoyed a spectacular view of the bay and its mangrove islets. 100% acquisition of knowledge was measured by a pre- and post-test. For more information click here:

Arts and ecology in the Piñones Forest and Nature Reserve: On June 28, 2011, a visit to this beautiful estuarine area provided an inspirational scenario for a group of kids and adolescents from the Arts Summer Camp of the Puerto Rico Contemporary Museum of Art. Gladys Rivera guided them through the mangrove forest in an educational tour, during which they learned about the mangroves and other species. A community member, Oscar Carrazco, offered a Piñones’ history talk. The activity ended with an environmental game, and participants returned to the Museum for a painting and drawing session using their estuarine tour as motivation and inspiration.