Friday, September 19, 2014

Highlights of September 2014


Javier Laureano, Cecilio Ortiz and Ernesto Díaz at the congressional briefing 

A diverse public was commited to the discussion at the Trash Free Waters Workshop

One of the trees planted in the Ponce de León Avenue

Dr. Jorge Bauzá at the Citizen Science Conference

      1) SJBEP at a Congressional briefing on climate change: on September 18, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. the President of our Scientific and Technical Committee, Ernesto Díaz, with our Executive Director, Javier Laureano, and a representative from the University Of Puerto Rico, Ceciclio Ortiz, offered a presentation to a group of advisors and staffers from the US Congress about the climate crisis of the Island.

The briefing was organized by Congressman Pedro Pierluisi and Congresswoman Kristen Gillibrand. After the briefing the group attended a press conference and a TV interview with Univisión Azteca.

The event was sponsored by the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Latino Climate Action Network, and El Puente. 
School performed water quality tests; Santurce, where volunteers created a vertical garden; Isla de Cabras, and a planting in Chiclana Creek in Caimito. Thanks to all the volunteers and the Environmental Protection Agency for sponsoring this project.

2) Estuary 360:  Planting, monitoring and cleanup the SJBE's watershed.  Last Saturday, September 6, 2014 the SJBEP organized an event with community members, students, volunteers from government agencies and private corporations to help enhance and restore several sites of the watershed. In only one of the sites (Esperanza Peninsula), the volunteers recovered 550 plastic bottles within one hour. Other sites included: the San Juan Bay, where students from the Onofre Carballeira

3) The SJBEP organized an innovative Trash Free Waters Workshop in junction with the United Nations Environmental Programme, EPA headquarters and the PR Recycling Partnership.  On Tuesday, September 9, 2014 our organization sponsored a key workshop to draft an agenda for action to work with the aquatic trash situation that is affecting the globe. EPA headquarters selected the San Juan Bay Estuary watershed as a pilot project to tests comprehensive policies and partnerships that effectively prevent land-based produced debris to reach the water bodies.

Thanks to the participation of Carla Friedrich from UNEP-Regional Office of North America- we were able to present a global perspective of the problem; Mark Liechtenstein from the Puerto Rico Recycling Partnership offered a view of effective policies that are being implemented at the regional level; and Noemi Mercado from EPA headquarters presented the Agency's Trash Free Waters objectives and multi-sectorial view of the aquatic debris situation.

The workshop is being transcribed into a document that will be available online in the next couple of weeks.

4) The SJBEP creates a new urban ecological corridor: Thanks to a contribution from Mitsubishi Motors to enhance our EPA-sponsored urban planting project, we were able to plant 200 trees along 5.6 miles of the Ponce de Leon Avenue and the Ashford Avenue.  These are two of the main urban arteries of the metropolitan area of San Juan and had hundreds of abandoned planters that were turned into improvised trash cans. We were able to bring new soil to the planters and plant 200 new trees that will now enhance the urban ecosystem of San Juan and bring birds, butterflies, and improve storm water quality.

Our organization is in conversations with the Municipality to have the municipal government join the initiative to water and maintain in good condition these new trees.

5) SJBEP creates a new wetland forest of 300 trees in the Cucharillas Wetland:  From August 27 to September 3, 2014 the SJBEP planted 300 trees in this nature reserve that is co-managed by the community leadership of the Juana Matos neighborhood in Cataño represented by Pedro Carrión and Corredor del Yaguazo. This new wetland forest will improve the hydrological functions of the ecosystem and increase its fauna and ecological services.

6) Citizen Science Conference:  Region 2 of the Environmental Protection Agency coordinated the Citizen Science Conference on September  11 and 12, 2014. During this opportunity the SJBEP was able to present during the two days several of its key citizen science projects and achievements, such as our water quality monitoring programs, bird and fish censuses. Citizen science is an essential part of the work our organization does to further public participation.