Monday, October 31, 2011

Dunes; PC 1676; SJBEP Educational Exhibit; Sediment management; ANEP; Benthic restoration; Estuary Guardians

Pictures from the Piñones dunes restoration activity that took place in October 22, 2011.

Our highlights for October 16 to October 28, 2011, are as follows:

A new phase of the Piñones dunes restoration began this month – Banco Popular employees and Liga Atlética Policíaca serve as volunteers: The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the SJBEP joined efforts once more to help save the Piñones dunes. The strategy consisted of planting more than 300 coconut trees to help the dunes resist the high wind events typical of the end of the year along the Northern coast of Puerto Rico. The activity took place in October 22, 2011.

Follow the link for our EstuarioTV's coverage of the event:

We thank the Corporate Communications Department employees of Banco Popular for their support in the planting. The 300 coconut trees were available thanks to the efforts of another group of volunteers from the Liga Atlética Policíaca (Athletic League of the Police). They recovered the trees from areas of the Piñones Forest where the possibilities for growing were lessened by several factors.

PR House of Representatives votes “no” to the Senate’s version of PC 1676: This is a bill to turn the SJBEP’s Implementation Committee into a group created by law. After unanimous bipartisan approval of the bill in the House of Representatives in 2010, the Senate performed amendments to its text that were unacceptable to the House. The Senate is currently in the process of negotiating with the House to modify the bill and re-send it for approval.

SJBEP included in the redesign and rehabilitation of the Acuaexpreso Port project announced by the Governor: In a press conference held October 27, 2011, by the Governor of Puerto Rico, Hon. Luis Fortuño Burset, the Executive Director of the Maritime Transportation Authority, Ferdinand Cedeño, announced the inclusion of an educational exhibit in the new Acuaexpreso facilities. Javier Laureano, Executive Director of the SJBEP, and Evelyn Huertas, EPA’s Program Manager of the SJBEP, participated in the press conference.

Sediment management options discussed for the dredging of the Martín Peña Channel: As part of the ongoing commitment of our organization to the rehabilitation of the Martín Peña Channel and its communities, on Friday, October 14, Dr. Jorge Bauza participated in a meeting to discuss this difficult issue. It was agreed that, due to the volume of sediments, more than one disposition alternative will have to be evaluated, including a permanent upland placement site.

Thousands of readers mark “like” in response to one of our scientific educational articles: The article “The Condado Lagoon: the restoration of an aquatic urban ecosystem,” written by Jorge Bauza, was published in the Atabaey Magazine in the October-December issue. Since its release on October 17, over 2500 people have clicked the “like” icon for the article.

SJBEP present at the Association of the National Estuary Program’s Annual National Conference 2011: Cathy Ortiz and Javier Laureano participated in the conference. We congratulate Shelley Luce and the team from the Santa Monica Bay NEP for a remarkable event, which took place from October 16-20, 2011, in Los Angeles, CA.

Brown bag presentation to the University of Puerto Rico’s IGERT associates: Our Scientific Advisor offered the talk “Enhancing and monitoring the San Juan Bay Estuary: Lessons learned from an urban estuary” at the UPR on October 19, 2011. The thirty attendees consisted mostly of graduate students and faculty members related to the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT). This is part of a National Science Foundation proposal endorsed by the San Juan Bay Estuary Program and granted to the UPR.

Another important step towards the benthic (bottom) restoration of the Condado Lagoon: Representatives from the SJBEP, USACE, and the PR Ports Authority met on Tuesday, October 18, 2011, in order to discuss a cooperative agreement between the represented parties for the benthic restoration of the Condado Lagoon. The SJBEP and the USACE agreed to develop a Project Management Plan which will contain the scope of the project, project implementation description, responsible parties, and their duties. The project is scheduled for the next San Juan Harbor maintenance dredging, in 2015.

NSF awards $5 million to SJBEP-endorsed grant proposal: On September 9, 2011, the National Science Foundation awarded a five-year grant of $5,000,000 to the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus for the creation of the Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience.

As part of the granting process, the SJBEP provided a letter of support for the project, and met several times with its proponents. The SJBEP will provide field support and technical assistance to the graduate students funded by the grant. Dr. Jorge Bauza and Ernesto Olivares met with Dr. Loretta Robertson, PI of the project, to coordinate a first field visit to collect blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus).

Estuary Guardians of Barrio Obrero understand their relationship with the Martín Peña Channel: In an interactive educational talk to twelve students, a special moment occurred when we showed them an aerial photo of the Martin Peña Channel, which the students did not recognize. For the first time they were able to understand their relationship with this water body. At the end of the talk, 100% of the students demonstrated that they had learned what an estuary is, versus only 1 person who demonstrated this knowledge at the beginning of the talk. Gladys Rivera from the SJBE and Roberto Morales from Enlace Corporation were the resources for this talk.


Trainings to become volunteers for the San Juan Bay Estuary Program:

November 2 – For persons interested in habitat restoration.

November 9 – For those interested in education and workshops.

November 17 – For people interested in water quality monitoring.

Two sections will be available each day, at 10 am and 5 pm. All training will be offered at our office. For more information please send an email to

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Martín Peña Recicla, La Esperanza cleanup and planting, New plant nursery at Piñones Forest, Estuario TV, Vegetable gardens, Harmful blooming

Pictures: Cleanup and planting event with MillerCoors employees; SJBEP receives a donation of $5,000 from the corporation; Old Navy employees working in the Piñones Forest; Eutrophication event in the San José Lagoon.

Our highlights for October 1 to October 15, 2011 are as follow:

1) Martín Peña Recicla strengthens its recycling capacity thanks to SJBEP’s support: In December of 2010, the SJBEP contracted a carrier to help the community-based organization “Martín Peña Recicla” to pick up recyclables from homes and transport them to recycling businesses.

This week we are proud to say that we received a report from the organization detailing the amount of material recycled each month of its fiscal year, from October, 2010, to September, 2011. We can gladly announce that our support helped the organization strengthen its carrying capacity, almost doubling it.

2) Successful cleanup, planting, and monitoring activity in la Esperanza islet: For the last six years, the SJBEP has conducted its annual cleanup of the islet of la Esperanza. On Saturday, October 1st, 2011, we managed to clean up most of the garbage accumulated on the islet over the previous year, with the help of Corredor del Yaguazo and MillerCoors employees. Volunteers monitored water quality parameters and planted various species of coastal trees, such as sea grapes and white mangrove. The event was covered by local newspaper Primera Hora and served as the headlining story for our very first edition of Estuario TV.

Special thanks to MillerCoors for helping us fund this enterprise and to all the volunteers who donated their time and energy to help make this activity a great success.

3) Meeting with the Office of the Governor to present the Condado Lagoon seagrass restoration project: Last Wednesday, October 5th, the SJBEP’s Executive Director, Javier Laureano, Dr. Jorge Bauzá, and contractor Fernando Pagés Rangel from TetraTech met with the Governor’s Environment, Energy, and Infrastructure Advisor in La Fortaleza. The purpose of the meeting was to present the results of the studies and design of the project to fill the artificial depressions and restore the seagrass bed of the Condado Lagoon.

4) New plant nursery at Piñones Natural Reserve thanks to the work of Old Navy Stores Employees: In October 5, 2011, fifty-three employees of Old Navy stores of Puerto Rico participated in this event in which a new plant nursery was created. This plant nursery will serve as a working area for the community, students, and volunteers of the SJBE to plant seeds from Cobana Negra and mangrove trees. Cobana Negra is a native endangered tree found only in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, and one adult tree is found in this forest. Volunteers also planted Cobana Negra and Emajaguilla trees in the area. We want to thank Herminio Díaz, Biologist from the DRNA, who is responsible for the Piñones Reserve, for his collaboration with Gladys Rivera for the event.

5) 4H Group Ready for a sub-aquatic cleanup at artificial reef restoration site: An enthusiastic group of participants from 4H Clubs in Cataño received an educational talk by Gladys Rivera and Jorge Bauzá in preparation for the 1st sub-aquatic cleanup activity by this group with the SJBE. Given the importance of this event for the conservation of the artificial reefs of the Condado Lagoon, special emphasis was given by Dr. Bauzá to the understanding of coral reefs restoration.

6) Corporación Enlace and Barrio Obrero area school to join Guardianes del Estuario School Water Quality Monitoring Project: As part of SJBEP’s collaborative efforts with Corporación Enlace, they identify a school in the Caño Martín Peña area that will join Guardianes del Estuario. The Ernesto Ramos Antonini School is a public school located in Barrio Obrero. On October 11th, Gladys Rivera met with teacher Ricardo Herrera and Roberto Morales from Enlace to introduce the project and coordinate an educational talk for the students that will be held on October 18. We thank Enlace for their interest in adopting this initiative as part of their environmental educational effort in their communities.

7) Harmful algae blooming in the San José Lagoon: Last week, our Water Quality Program Coordinator, Ernesto Olivares, registered a harmful algae blooming on the San José Lagoon. An episode such as this is known as eutrophication and it is indicative of a high content of nutrients, such as nitrites and phosphates, most likely due to a non-point source of pollution.

8) SJBEP serves as point of contact between schools for the development of vegetable gardens: On Monday, October 4th, 2011, Javier Laureano held a meeting in Central High School’s Vegetable Garden as a first step for the development of a garden at Saint John’s School. Héctor Rivera, horticultural expert from the USDA, was present at the meeting and offered his insight on the project’s feasibility. The initiative forms part of SJBEP’s effort to develop an efficient cooperative of school and urban gardens.

9) SJBEP launches Estuary Television: We are proud to announce that the SJBEP has officially launched its very own T.V. channel on Through it we will broadcast videos reporting on the SJBEP’s latest endeavors and undertakings, as well as other educational material. Click on the following link to access Estuario TV’s homepage:

10) Estuary’s Cinema presented “Cocoon”: Last Saturday, October 8th, 2011, Estuary’s Cinema screened yet another edition of its open air cinema by the Condado Lagoon. This time we presented Ron Howard’s sci-fi classic “Cocoon.” The film was preceded by the official launching of Estuario TV.

Save the date:

In Puerto Rico we have lost 90% of our sand dunes, a key resource that helps protects the island from coastal erosion, storm surges, and even tsunamis. Next Saturday, October 22, at 9:00 am, at Piñones State Park, help us preserve the ones we have left. Please volunteer.

Click on the following link to view the SJBEP’s calendar of activities for the month of October: