Friday, April 4, 2014

Our highlights for the month of March 2014 are as follow:

 Volunteers planting a Cobana negra tree during our Estuary 360 project.  This is a citizen science and watershed-based ongoing initiative.  The Cobana negra is a tree in danger of extinction.       

Members of the community and students from the Martín Peña Channel area installing a work of art as part of the Proyecto Enlace, G-8, and Murals and Gardens of the Estuary initiative.  

Hudson River Foundation Director, Clay Hiles, with SJBEP Executive Director, Javier Laureano visiting one of the murals of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program.   

The marine debris collected from the bottom of the Condado Lagoon will be reused in our educational workshops and will be part of a marine debris educational exhibit.

Board members of The Nature Conservancy visited the San José Lagoon with the Chair of Bank and Finance of the Management Conference, Ramón Lloveras San Miguel (5th to the left) and the Executive Director of the SJBEP, Javier Laureano (1st to the left).  

A sea of plastic about to be recycled at IFCO plant, Caguas PR.  This is one of the sites to be visited during our Trash Free Waters Conference 2014 on June 4-5.  

Close up view of the Carolina Municipal Landfill, one of the best managed in Puerto Rico.

Compost processing area at Vivo, Caguas PR.  1/4 of the Island's municipal solid waste in comprised of organic waste.  

Yo Reciclo Styrofoam recycling facilities at Caguas PR.

SJBEP and the Solid Waste Management Authority of Puerto Rico visited the Niños Salvando al Mundo Ecological School in Caguas, a zero waste school.

Members of the Co-Management Committee of the Condado Lagoon Estuarine Reserve met to discuss the progress of the Lagoon's Management Plan. 

ESTUARY 360:  Citizen science to enhance and restore our ecosystem On March 1st, 2014 we celebrated the second edition of Estuary 360, a watershed-scale effort of citizen science, ecosystem restoration and water quality monitoring. 

135 volunteers worked in 13 locations, planted 137 trees, collected 1,700 lbs. of trash and monitored 6 bodies of water.  Our Outreach Coordinator, Gladys Rivera, is the key person of our staff working on the initiative, showcased in the following media links:  

Rehabilitation of the Martín Peña’s bridge through Gardens and Murals of the Estuary- For the last month the San Juan Bay Estuary Program has been working every day with schools of the Martín Peña communities in collaboration with the Proyecto Enlace, the San Juan Municipality, and the Group of the Eight Communities (G-8) to restore the bridge.  The children of the community used the scientific illustrations of our Scientific Illustrator, Adriana Ocaña, to paint large-scale murals that were installed on the bridge.  The coordinator of this important project was our Gardens and Murals of the Estuary Coordinator, Claudia Senior.  We thank our great friends of Enlace for this new opportunity to join forces.  The inauguration activity received ample media coverage, such as the following links:

The Governor of Puerto Rico joined the environmental agencies of the Island and the SJBEP to promote locally the Earth Hour-According to the World Wildlife Fund: “On March 29, 2014, hundreds of millions of people around the world in over 7,000 cities in 162 countries turned off their lights for Earth Hour, our annual display of commitment to protect the planet. In the United States…over 50,000 people joined the movement along with major landmarks, cities and businesses, including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building in New York, the Willis Tower in Chicago, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and the Space Needle in Seattle…” 

Locally, the Governor’s Mansion turned off their lights as well as the Environmental Agencies Building:

The Hudson River Foundation Director visited our entity- On Monday, March 17, we received the visit of Clay Hiles, Executive Director of the Hudson Bay River Foundation. We took Mr. Hiles on a tour of our Estuary that included visits to the Capetillo Urban Forest and Community Garden, as well as the Martín Peña Channel and the Cantera Project. The day concluded with a boat tour of the San José, Torrecillas, and Corozos Lagoons.  During the weekend, Hiles shared with our Executive Director, Javier Laureano, to craft a partnership between both organizations.
Antilles Rapid Assessment Method- SJBEP staff scientists Dr. Jorge Bauzá and Dr. Ricardo Colón were invited to provide their input on the development of the Antilles Rapid Assessment Method, an effort led by the DNER to assess the status of Puerto Rico’s wetlands. During the workshop “Assessing the current condition of PR wetlands” our scientists also developed important collaborations to initiate wetland assessment projects within the San Juan Bay Estuary.
Working with turtle community groups- Keeping up with the implementation of our annual work plan, on March 20, we met with all the sea turtle monitoring groups of the San Juan area to develop strategies that will unify the efforts of the monitoring groups and to offer the support of the SJBEP to their current projects.  We thank Dr. Carlos Diez for inviting us to join these efforts of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. 
Unauthorized Sewage Discharges Task Force- On April 3, 2014 our Scientific Director, Dr. Jorge Bauzá, coordinated the first meeting of the Unauthorized Sewage Discharge Task Force. The idea behind the creation of the Task Force is to address one of the most important and persistent problems affecting the water quality of our Estuary: the identification of non-point sources of contamination via sewage.  On the other hand, the Scientific and Technical Committee met on April 1, 2014.

Cleanups in the Condado Lagoon offers materials for marine debris exhibit and art workshops- During the month of March 2014 we have been able to clean the bottom and fringes of the Condado Lagoon, taking out of the body of water thousands of pounds of debris.  We are using several materials (mostly glass bottles) to setup a marine debris exhibit, and reuse the bottles as part of our arts and crafts workshops.   

Board members from The Nature Conservancy visit the San Juan Bay Estuary On March 2, 2014 we received a visit from board members of The Nature Conservancy, conservation-focused NGO with world-wide presence. Our executive director, Dr. Javier Laureano, toured all the water bodies of our estuary with the visitors and began the discussions to share information about several projects, including our

Waste management in Puerto Rico: a preliminary tour in preparation for our June 2014 workshop “TRASH FREE WATERS: EFFECTIVE POLICIES, AN AGENDA FOR ACTION” On March 5, 2014 the SJBEP staff, along with Marilyn Vicens from the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Authority visited several sites that have shown exemplary solid waste management strategies. This visit was part of the preparations for our upcoming workshop “Trash free waters: An agenda for action”. Our first stop was the Ecological School Niños Salvando al Mundo, where we learned about their zero-waste initiatives.

We then headed to the Yo Reciclo Styrofoam recycling center in located in Caguas, Puerto Rico. After that we visited a sea of plastic at the IFCO recycling plant in Caguas, evidence that this material widely found in our oceans is not garbage but raw material to produce jobs and other products. The Vivo composting plant was another of our stops in Caguas. This location receives organic waste from several municipalities, which is then composted and sold at accessible prices to the general public. Our last stop was the landfill of the municipality of Carolina. This landfill is one of the best managed in Puerto Rico.

Second meeting of the Commission for the Co-management of the Condado Lagoon- Citizens, businesspersons, government representatives, scientists and persons from the community met at the second meeting of the Commission, a mechanism of participatory democracy sponsored by the SJBEP, the DNER and the Municipality of San Juan.  We discussed several issues of concern to the members of the Commission, including marine debris, direct contact with the water, our new citizen guide, the use of the Lagoon for Olympic rowing, and the contract of Estudios Técnicos to draft the management and conservation plan of the Lagoon.          

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