ANEP San Juan 2015 Conference:
After one intensive year of coordination and planning, we hosted this year’s ANEP Conference during the 1st- 4th of December. The presentations were centered in citizen science, climate change, community adaptation to climate change, trash free waters, national programs update, and estuarine hybridity. The Municipality of San Juan provided us with a historic venue for our conferences during December 2-3, the Tapia Theater in Old San Juan, and the PR Tourism Company sponsored a welcoming reception on December 2, where we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Vieques History and Land Trust.
At the opening of the conference, three Estuary Guardians from high schools of the watershed offered very emotional messages about the impact of climate change in their generation, as well as their work in our entity. EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, sent welcoming remarks to the National Estuary Program, and the EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck had an active role during the conference, where she delivered the keynote speech.
The NEP community visit the Martín Peña Channel:
As part of this tech-transfer opportunity, on December 3, 2015, we organized a trip to the Martín Peña Channel for our NEP colleagues. The trip was facilitated by ENLACE Project, our Urban Waters Ambassador, Ingrid Vila, and the G-8 Community Group.
The experience was eye-opening to the NEP community as to the amount of work that lies ahead for the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, even prompting ANEP chairman Stan Hales to call for a unified effort from other NEPs towards helping the San Juan Bay Estuary’s special needs. It was a call for unity we greatly appreciated.
After 20 years a dream comes true: the Visitor Center of the San Juan Bay Estuary:
Also on December 3, 2015 we launched our new Visitor Center, home of an exhibition dedicated to the Martín Peña Channel. We received over 100 guests, including our NEP colleagues, the President of the G-8 community group, Carmen Febres, the President and board members of the Titin Foundation, as well as members of our Management Conference and the Corporation for the Conservation of the SJBE.
This exhibit, as well as the Visitor Center were possible thanks to a contribution and matching funds made by the Titín Foundation. During the inauguration we recognized one of the our Estuary Keepers Award recipient, Claudia Gutiérrez, who wasn’t able to travel from NY for the September ceremony. This was a very moving activity where our entity celebrated what we have dreamed for 20 years, having a Visitor Center of the San Juan Bay Estuary.
The ANEP 2015 San Juan Conference concluded with a bird watching event at 6:00am sponsored by our partners of the Pr Ornithological Society (SOPI) on Friday, December 4, 2015 and a guided tour offered by our environmental interpreter, Melba Ayala. Both events took place in Old San Juan.
Special message of gratitude from the Executive Director, Javier E. Laureano Pérez, MPA, PhD:
As the Executive Director of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, I want to make public my appreciation and deep gratitude to the SJBEP’s community, especially our staff, contractors, and VISTA members for their leadership and support during the ANEP Conference. These were days of 12-15 working hours, with very little time to rest or even sleep. Thanks to your commitment and hard work we were able to have a very productive and successful ANEP Conference, that highlighted our entity in the national landscape, as expressed by several members of this program, and the Regional Administrator Judith Enck.