Photos: Volunteers from the Capetillo community participate in the PR Water Monitoring Day; the San Juan Municipality and the DNER cleanup 1,200 tons of debris from the Martín Peña Channel; and volunteers performing beach profiles.
Our highlights for the months of April and May 2012 are as follow:
Puerto Rico Water Quality Monitoring Day: Island-wide Citizen Science in practice – On April 21 more than 1,200 volunteers joined ranks with the SJBEP to complete the 4th Puerto Rico Water Quality Monitoring Day. Thanks to our volunteers we were able to monitor approximately 120 water bodies along 30 municipalities. The collected data will be submitted to the World Water Quality Monitoring Challenge database.
Through this event we offer water-monitoring kits to persons from all ages, which they use as a tool to interact with water bodies and produce knowledge and information about their immediate ecosystem. This year the person in charge of the coordination of the event was Gladys Rivera.
We want to thank our sponsors and collaborators: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Quality Board, the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Puerto Rico Water and Environment Association.
Staggering 1,200 tons of debris removed from the Martín Peña Channel- The San Juan Municipality and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (part of our Management Conference), performed this massive mechanized cleanup that began in February 29 to March 2, 2012, and continued during May 25, 2012. The effort took ninety (90) trips to the Humacao landfill and the use of three trucks: one (1) unit of 52 feet, one (1) unit of 25 feet, and one (1) unit of 16 feet.
After the cleanup the Municipality of San Juan installed signs with a telephone number where citizens can denounce illegal dumping in the area. This event is certainly a step further in the implementation of our Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) and the restoration of the Martín Peña Channel.
EPA’s Evaluation Committee: The Program at its highest point in eleven years – Every four years the San Juan Bay Estuary Program - as well as all organizations affiliated to the National Estuary Program- undergoes a rigorous evaluation from the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters. On this occasion the entity’s Executive Director, Dr. Javier Laureano, welcomed the Evaluation Committee in San Juan from April 29 to May 1st. On May 1st the Board of Directors convened and EPA officials announced the preliminary results of the evaluation, agreeing to pass the SJBEP for another four years. The Evaluation Committee spokesperson, Noemí Mercado, expressed that at this moment the San Juan Bay Estuary Program is at its highest point of development of the last eleven years.
The PR Daily Sun covered this key evaluation visit:
Two tons of debris removed from the Ausubo Creek Riparian Restoration, planting begins– The San Juan Bay Estuary Program is part of an alliance to study and restore the Río Piedras river, the main freshwater source of the San Juan Bay. The National Science Foundation sponsors the Río Piedras initiative through the San Juan Urban Long Term Research Alliance (ULTRA).
Thanks to the Special Fund of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, the organization was able to further the restoration of two acres of a riparian ecosystem related to one of the tributaries of the Río Piedras river, the Ausubo creek.
The organization removed two (2) tons of debris from the area and one (1) acre of invasive vegetation, rearranged the land banks near the creek to improve its drainage, and distributed seven trucks of wood shavings to improve the survival rate of new trees being planted in the two acres.
On May 26, 2012 several volunteers planted endemic species in that area donated by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust, and during the summer volunteers will be watering the trees. Other partners contributing to the Ausubo Creek Riparian Restoration include the Arboretum de Cupey, Scuba Dogs Society, Grupos Ambientales Interdisciplinarios (GAIA), and Boricuá.
Climate change: Beach profiles begins- As part of the SJBEP’s initiatives to study the effects of Climate Change on the coast, Ernesto Olivares, who is our Monitoring Coordinator, conducted the first beach profiles in the Piñones area. The event took place on April 5 and 16, 2012. Through these measurements the organization is analyzing coastal erosion and sea level rise.
We thank the students of Dr. Elvia Meléndez from the University of Puerto Rico for including the activity as part of her classes, and her students for volunteering. The organization also thanks Dr. Delmis Alicea (UPR/ UMESCO) and Ruperto Chaparro from Sea Grant for donating the instruments needed to complete the profiles.
Scientific and Technical Committee (STAC) meeting to discuss the Martín Peña Channel’s dredging– On May 18, 2012 the SJBEP held a special STAC meeting with the purpose of discussing the latest version of the Feasibility Study for the Martín Peña Channel Dredging. All major state and federal agencies participated. The meeting was organized in alliance with the Enlace Project of the Martín Peña Channel, the government organization who is sponsoring the Feasibility Study.
Environmental Challenges and Restoration Projects in Los Angeles: a lecture by Dr. Shelley Luce – On May 1st, 2012 the SJBEP hosted a presentation held by the Executive Director of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, Dr. Shelley Luce. The lecture focused on coastal restoration projects and sustainable initiatives aimed at correcting the problems of urban runoff and water supplies, as well as the rehabilitation of streams and wetlands in densely populated areas of Los Angeles, California and the Santa Mónica Bay. The activity took place at 9:00 am in the conference room of the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.
Estuary Guardians’ academic year closing event - On May 19th, we celebrated the conclusion of our Estuary Guardians’ academic year. A total of 60 students took part of the celebration, which consisted of a guided tour through various regions of the ecosystem, including Vacía Talega and Piñones’ State Forest, a marine turtle workshop, and a cultural activity in COPI. In the event students were able to exchange technical knowledge and data to further improve their monitoring skills.
SJBE showcased in the TV program “En ruta por” - On Friday, May 11, our scientific advisor and outreach coordinator, Dr. Jorge Bauzá and Gladys Rivera, respectively, were interviewed as part of the television show “En ruta por”. The segment focused on different low-impact recreational activities within the San Juan Bay Estuary, showcasing some of the SJBEP’s restoration initiatives such as our mangrove reforestation program in the Condado Lagoon and our water quality-monitoring program.
“Aguas dulces/ Aguas saladas” environmental justice communities site-specific performance workshops - Artist Fiona Templeton, from New York and London, conducted community workshops in the following sites: Cucharillas Wetland (Juana Matos community), Capetillo community’s Urban Forest, Barrio Obrero and Israel communities (part of the Martín Peña Channel study area).
Approximately 40 persons from the community attended the workshops from May 31, 2011 to April 20, 2012. As part of the project members of the communities were able to share their dreams with the artist and a group of local performers.
The performers, trained by Templeton for a month, represented the dreams of the communities in a presentation at the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park on May 20, 2012.
The event received ample media coverage, including two full-pages, full-color at El Nuevo Día newspaper on Sunday, April 8, 2012, named “Stories of the Bay”.
We thank the Puerto Rico’s Artistic Council and the National Performance Network for choosing the San Juan Bay Estuary for the development of this unique experience.
Visit from Nancy Stoner, EPA’s Deputy Administrator for the Office of Water- Nancy Stoner is the person from EPA in charge of the Office of Water. Thanks to an invitation from Judith Enck, Stoner visited several environmental justice communities of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program. The visit took place on April 13, 2012
Stoner wrote the following excellent article about her visit to the Program:
On May 15, 2012 Bernice Smith, the National Estuary Program’s Director in DC, sent a communication to all NEP directors and EPA regions to inform about this relevant visit and congratulate the SJBEP for its fine work.
SJBEP speaks to the New York Federal Reserve - On the second of May, Dr. Javier Laureano presented to the executive staff of the New York Federal Reserve the economic relevance of the SJBE's ecosystems.
Among the attendees to the presentation were Christine Cumming, First Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank; Richard Peach, Senior Vice President; and Rae Rosen, Assistant Vice President. After the meeting, the members of the NYFR visited our mangrove planting and artificial reef restoration projects in the Condado Lagoon.
Alliance with Cantera presented in a press conference– On April 19th, Dr. Javier Laureano, and STAC President Ernesto Díaz participated in a press conference organized by the Company for the Integral Development of the Cantera Peninsula to announce the alliance of the Company with the SJBEP and the DNER.
One of the projects discussed during the event was the Guachinanga channel’s dredging. The SJBEP and Cantera have destined an investment of $400,000 for this initiative.