Friday, October 19, 2012

EPA evaluation; Climate change grants; CCMP Revision; Cleanups and planting; Community-based activities; Environmental Neuroscience; Fishing Bat Project



Our update for June 11, 2012, to September 14, 2012, is as follows:

San Juan Bay Estuary Program passes quadrennial evaluation performed by the EPA: Every four years the Environmental Protection Agency evaluates all organizations affiliated to the National Estuary Program. This assessment determines whether the entities will continue to receive federal funds from Section 320 of the Clean Water Act to implement environmental restoration actions.

We are pleased to inform that our Program revalidated the 2008-2011 evaluation with the highest remarks from EPA Headquarters. This ensures an average of $2,000,000 in federal investment for the rehabilitation of the ecosystem in the next four years.

The San Juan Bay Estuary Program wins over $100,000 in grant proposals to study Climate Change effects on the ecosystem: During the Summer we received the good news that our Estuary Program was awarded a proposal of $90,000 to create a model of climate change for the San Juan Bay Estuary. This model is based on satellite information and "remote sensing." This tool will be created between the University of South Florida, the University of Puerto Rico, and the SJBEP.

Furthermore, EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, selected our Program to implement a new protocol that examines the vulnerability of the Metropolitan Area to the consequences of climate change. For this, the agency awarded a $17,000 proposal to implement the new protocols to assess climate change vulnerability in estuaries.

SJBEP Coordinates Successful Multisectoral Dialogue to Update its Management Plan: On September 7, 2012, a broad representation of professional organizations, community leaders, and environmentalists met at Sacred Heart University to discuss the new actions proposed for the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan of the San Juan Bay Estuary.

Over 80 people attended the activity. Some of the most pressing concerns were the flooding of communities where stormwater is combined with sewage water, invasive and potentially dangerous species like the caiman crocodile, the importance of dredging the Martín Peña Channel, and the inclusion of freshwater tributaries in the scope of work of the Management Plan.

One ton of trash recovered from our waterways through SJBEP’s volunteering activities: Recently we carried out ​​several important cleanup and planting activities in some of our ecosystem, including:

Planting and cleanup activity in the San Juan Bay area, with MillerCoors and Corredor del Yaguazo: With the sponsorship of V. Suarez, MillerCoors and the community-based organization of Corredor del Yaguazo, our organization recovered over 900 pounds of debris from the shores of La Esperanza Island in Cataño.  Close to a dozen car tires were recovered from the ecosystem, a notable rise compared with past years. Our volunteers received training on water quality monitoring and planted a total of 30 trees along the coast of the Islet.

Cleanup with Citigroup employees: On June 16, 2012, a total of 128 Citigroup employees supported the efforts of our organization in the cleanup of the western axis of the San Juan Bay. During the activity we recovered about 1,400 pounds of solid waste from the area, including 1,456 plastic bottles and 796 caps. We also planted 30 “emajagüilla” trees and other coastal vegetation.

International Coastal Cleanup Activity: On September 15, 2012, a total of 29 volunteers from the Program worked, in collaboration with the Arboretum of Cupey, on a mile-long cleanup of Las Curías Lagoon. The group removed 1,000 pounds of trash from the area. The event was part of a broader cleanup initiative along the Río Piedras’ river where a total of 156 volunteers worked all morning to benefit the ecosystem.

$25,000 in donations to the Estuary Program: During the month of September, MillerCoors, The Mall of San Juan, and Citigroup offered donations for a total of $ 25,000 to support our environmental work. We thank our collaborators and their employees for their support.

"Summer in the Estuary": Activities for our Communities: This summer we offered several low-impact recreational activities for our citizens and stakeholders. On the morning of June 28, a group of Estuary Volunteers led by community leader Paco Lopez visited the Isla Verde Coral Reef Island. On July 10 we offered an interpretative tour on the Santa Ana Forest where we showed the interconnection between the forest and Las Cucharillas Wetland. Finally, on July 13 we hosted a guided paddleboat tour on the Condado Lagoon.

With the children of our communities:  Activity with 150 children from Piñones and Museum of Contemporary Art devotes Summer Camp to the Estuary: This summer the Museum of Contemporary Art combined the environment with the arts in their "Summer Art" camp. The participants went on a guided educational boat tour through the Estuary’s water bodies and designed several paintings and drawings with the ecological theme of our ecosystem.

As part of the Summer Festival of the Children of Fishermen Peninsula, in Piñones, we conveyed our message and conducted several water quality samplings with 150 children from the community. Moreover, we offered interpretative tours for the staff of the Natural Sciences Library at UPR-Rio Piedras, the San Antonio Academy in Carolina, and the Methodist School of Río Piedras. Finally, the San Juan Bay Estuary Program coordinated an educational tour by boat for the children of Capetillo along the Estuary’s water channels.

Fishing Bat (Noctilio leporinus) Project: Since February 18, the Estuary Program has been part of the Noctilio Project along with Santa Ana’s Environmental Center and Forest and the Inter-American University.  As of July 11, 2012, the project’s volunteers have managed to identify 25 bats, as part of a study of the species. For more information please see the following article:

Collaboration with the Center for Environmental Neuroscience of Puerto Rico (CENPR): Our organization endorsed the establishment of the CENPR, which exists in part because of a proposal of the National Science Foundation. As part of our collaboration with the institution, on July 11, 2012, we organized a workshop for them under the name "From Forest to the Estuary: a Natural Connection." We also took part in the monitoring of sediment, water quality, and blue crab tissue.

Campaign for the Protection of the Leatherback sea turtle: During the Summer of 2012, the organization – in alliance with the Puerto Rico Leatherback Association (ATIPUR), the Student Chapter of the Society of Marine Environment (CESAM) and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) – designed a campaign to protect the nests of the Leatherback sea turtle along the Estuary’s sandy beaches. The campaign, which was sponsored with funds from our Estuary Program, included a sign with information about the species and the phone numbers to call in case of spawning, and cleanup activities focusing on cigarette butts in the beaches of Condado and Ocean Park.

Estuary Cinema – successful Summer 2012 edition: Thousands of people attended the six functions of this Summer-Season of Estuary’s Cinema. The Estuary’s neighbors are increasingly attending our outdoor cinema at the Jaime Benitez Park. On September 8, 2012 alone, about 700 people came to see the film “Rio.”

The San Juan Bay Estuary Program convenes climate change experts at EPA’s office in Guaynabo: Over 30 scientists from Puerto Rico gathered on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, at the office of the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division to discuss various issues related to climate change and its impact to the Metropolitan Area and the estuarine zone. Our organization coordinated the workshop as part of the alliance we have with the Climate Ready Estuaries Project.

Our Executive Director featured in the Sunday edition of El Nuevo Día newspaper: As part of the series "The Grand Sunday Interview," Javier Laureano had the opportunity to present the Estuary Program’s project and its relevance to Puerto Rico. The interview was posted on the 8th of July, 2012, in the key newspaper of the island, El Nuevo Día, which has a circulation of over 200,000 issues every Sunday.

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