Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cucharillas cleanup; EPA evaluation; Beach profiles; Cruise Passengers Donation Program; Students from PR join NJ; Guachinanga restoration

Pictures: designs for the Cruise Passengers Donation Program and photos from the Guachinanga cleanup event.

Update from February 18 to March 28, 2012

1) Our volunteers remove 500 lbs of debris from the Cucharillas Wetland: On March 10, 2012, our organization, in coordination with the community-based initiative The Yaguazo Corridor, organized a cleanup and monitoring of the Cobana Negra endangered tree in the Cucharillas Wetland. Please follow some of the extensive media coverage of this important event:

2) Evaluation from EPA; Resident Commissioner to join Board meeting to discuss the evaluation: The SJBEP is undergoing a 4-year evaluation conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Headquarters in Washington, DC. On February 28, 2012, we submitted over 200 documents and attachments to EPA, and between April 20 - May 1, 2012, we will receive a site visit from the agency. Our Resident Commissioner in DC, Hon. Pedro Pierluisi, will join the meeting with the DC personnel to discuss the results of the evaluation with our Board of Directors.

3) SJBEP to support more community-based restoration initiatives: As part of the design of our next year’s budget, we have included ten wonderful community-based restoration projects. Some of the initiatives consist of invasive species removal, restoration of riparian flora, cleanups, vegetable gardens, stormwater pollution prevention, and wetland enhancement and restoration, among others. These activities were discussed in our Citizen Advisory Committee’s meeting of March 15, 2012.

4) New volunteers for water quality monitoring, including the Río Piedras river: On March 23, 2012, our Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator recruited new volunteers from the Inter American University, which is helping us by developing a special monitoring project on the Río Piedras river. On March 12, 2012, our Coordinator also offered a monitoring workshop for the AmeriCorps volunteers of the Cantera Peninsula and to the students of the University of Puerto Rico’s Dr. Elvia Meléndez, who will also join our monitoring initiative.

5) Sea Grant and UNESCO donate equipment to perform beach profiles: Beach profiling is an important tool for measuring the changes of shape in the beach and the risks posed by factors like Climate Change to coastal communities. We want to thank Mr. Ruperto Chaparro from Sea Grant and Dr. Delmis Alicea from the UNESCO for providing our organization with the equipment necessary to perform these beach profiles in the Metropolitan Area. Ernesto Olivares coordinated this donation and, on March 16, 2012, offered a workshop to Dr. Elvia Meléndez’ students, who will perform profiles during the current semester.

6) QAPP submitted for Water Level Sensors: On March 27, 2012, the SJBEP submitted to EPA the Quality Assurance Project Plan for our innovative study regarding water levels in the Metropolitan Area’s water bodies.

7) New steps towards the Guachinanga Island’s restoration: On March 28, 2012, Dr. Jorge Bauzá and our partners from the Company for the Comprehensive Development of the Cantera Peninsula performed a site visit with several bidders on our Request for Proposal for the restoration of the Guachinanga Island. We will begin receiving the proposals within the next three weeks. The first phase of this project is estimated at $200,000.

8) Cruise Passengers Donation Program set to begin next week: Thanks to the collaboration of Blanca Sáez and Milagros Rodríguez from the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, next week we will begin this promising donation program. We have produced t-shirts, postcards, tote bags, and waterproof pouches as gifts for the donations from the passengers.

9) Nancy Stoner, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, and Judith Enck, Region 2 Administrator, will visit the SJBEP: As part of their engagement with Environmental Justice communities, Stoner and Enck will visit the San Juan Bay Estuary Program on April 13, 2012. Information about Stoner and Enck in the following links:

10) Estuary’s Cinema included in local press as an example of citizen’s re-capturing of public spaces in the city:

11) San Juan Bay Estuary Guardians joined students from New Jersey to discuss water conservation proposals: On March 22, 2012, participants from our Estuary Guardians monitoring project visited local EPA offices and joined, through teleconference, a group of student volunteers from the New Jersey Clean Communities organization. Evelyn Hiertas offered a guided tour for our students, who were able to discuss proposals and exchange ideas with their peers from New Jersey. We want to thank Gladys Rivera for her great support in this event.

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