Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Highlights for the week ending July 16th

Oral and life History Workshop:
This week we said goodbye to six of our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers. In the last two years these VISTA led us to major environmental, social and economic achievements in the communities of the Estuary. For this special occasion, on July 15th we organized a workshop about oral history and life history provided by historian Ruth García, PH.D. Participants were able to share about their experiences, while learning to build oral histories and life stories through the development of interviews.

Bird Census in Old San Juan:
Last Saturday the Old San Juan was the scenario for dozens of interested volunteers who conduct a bird census. Our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Laura Fidalgo, MSc, showed them the different strategies to locate and identify bird species in the area. Twenty-five volunteers participated and more than a dozen different birds were identified.

The Cone Festival in Las Curias:
On Saturday 16 and Sunday 15, we continued our support of Las Curias communities. We participated in the Cone Festival with an educational booth. Hundreds of neighbors and general public joined us.

Green Flag for the Condado Lagoon:
This week we monitored the Condado Lagoon as part of the Condado Lagoon Estuarine Reserve Enterococcus Monitoring Project. On average the reserve meet the federal standard of 35CFU/100mL reporting a total of 19.16(CFU/100mL),
Consult data:

Highlights for the week of July 11th

562 pounds of garbage out of our San Juan Bay Estuary, 7.7.2016:
As part of our education and volunteer initiatives, 562 pounds of garbage, mostly plastic, were removed from the riparian forest in the old mouth of the Bayamon river and the east coast of the San Juan Bay, in Toa Baja. Eighty (80) young participants from the Upward Bound program of the Inter American University in Ponce were the protagonists of this initiative to improve our estuarine ecosystem. They also acquired knowledge about aquatic waste and the challenges this natural system faces in the race to restoring and preserving it. Thanks to these young people, Puerto Rico and the San Juan Bay Estuary are cleaner today.

Fish Survey in our artificial modules and mangrove planting project, 7.9.2016:
Our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Ivangs Rivera, MSc, led a group of six (6) volunteers in another successful fish survey at the Condado Lagoon. The activity was conducted during 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.. Three locations that included an area of ​​sand, seagrasses and artificial modules were studied. During the activity approximately 20 species of fish including lionfish were identified. You can see more images in our Instagram account: @estuariosanjuan and an amazing video filmed by Ivangs Rivera, posted in our Facebook page: Ciudad de Las Aguas.

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Green Flag for the Condado Lagoon
This week we monitored the Condado Lagoon as part of the Condado Lagoon Estuarine Reserve Enterococcus Monitoring Project. On average the reserve meet the federal standard of 35CFU/100mL reporting a total of 1.78(CFU/100mL),
Consult data:

Highlights for the week ending July 2nd

Water Quality Monitoring Program with Volunteers (WQMPV):
For the week of June 28th to July 2nd the WQMPV visited the 24 monitoring stations around the San Juan Bay Estuary Watershed. A total of 12 volunteers joined our WQMPV coordinator, Harold Manrique, and collected data from eight water quality parameters during the 4-day monitoring period. During each trip they also collected water samples to measure colonies of fecal bacteria. Our volunteers performed the analyses in our own facilities in Old San Juan. 

Olympic Summer Camp in our Visitor Center, 7.30.2016
We remain committed to the environmental education Puerto Rico's youth. Twenty (20) kids from the Olympic Summer Camp visited the San Juan Bay Estuary for an instructive trip. The littlest ones, led by our Education Manager Javier Cardona, enjoined a fun workshop about the fiddler crab, they listened to the tale “El Cangrejo Violinista (The Fiddler Crab)” by author Zulma Ayes, and engaged in drawing, painting, and movement exercises based on the story. The older ones, led by our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Helen Angell, interacted in the field and observed the San Juan Bay's flora and fauna. They also had the opportunity to perform water quality monitoring, beach cleaning and classify various types of debris found in the beach sand.

Highlights for the week ending June 25th

Supporting water quality improvement at Las Curías:
In the morning of June 14th, our Outreach Manager, Gladys Rivera, with the technical support of our Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator Harold Manrique, participated in a public hearing in the community of Las Curías in Cupey Alto. During this hearing led by the Energy Affairs and Water Resources Commission of Puerto Rico's Senate, the participants discussed the situation of the invasive aquatic plant that is covering the Las Curias' lake and the bacteriological contamination that is affecting the waters.  Our organization was invited to the hearing since we have been documenting and sharing the information about the problems with the lake and supporting initiatives with the community.  That day, after an afternoon meeting with the community and the San Juan Municipality, our organization committed to promote among our volunteers the salvina plant removal effort and participate in the initiative. From June 19th to June 24th, the SJBE’s volunteers and the SJBE group dedicated more than 80 hours of service to removing hundred of pounds of salvinia molesta from the lake. The organization also donated rakes to the community for the removal of the plant with a value of over $200.

Educational video about the situation in Las Curías lake produced by our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Joselín E. Ramírez [CC available]:

Dunes restoration project:
On Sunday, June 19th, one of the most important newspapers in the island published a special report about our Dunes Restoration Project. This article was relative to the remarkable activity that we held June 18th, in Piñones, as part of our efforts in playa Aviones. The enterprise was sponsored by Banana Boat, with more than 50 volunteers from all around the island who participated in different activities. They had the opportunity to place new bamboo fences to increase the amount of sand in the second phase of our dunes restoration project. They also participated in the monthly beach profile in the restoration area, and in a planting event.  The volunteers performed water quality monitoring, bird observation, and aquatic trash removal including the classification of micro-plastics. The event was coordinated by Dr. Jorge Bauzá, our Scientific Director, and Gladys Rivera, our Volunteer and Outreach Manager, and is part of the efforts of our organization to provide citizen science opportunities to our volunteers.  AmeriCorps VISTA members and other staff of the San Juan Bay Estuary also supported the activities of the day.

Link to the article:

Breeding bird census and workshop:
Laura Fidalgo led our AmeriCorps VISTA and additional volunteers in a bird census on June 24th, as part of their work identifying ecological resources in the communities, at the Las Curias community in Cupey Alto, with more than 25 species identified. They found a great abundance of scaly-naped pigeon (paloma turca), and a nesting area of Swallows species (golondrinas) that live there.  As part of the capacity building activities of the VISTA group, on June 25th, Ms. Fidalgo led a workshop about bird observation at the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park in San Juan with the participation of 8 volunteers, who performed the basics on bird identification.

Lionfish population control pilot project:
The lionfish removal at the Condado Lagoon is bearing fruit. Our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Ivangs Rivera, who led the identification and capture activity with other volunteers, on June 25th, confirmed that no specimens were found in the area.

Highlights for the week ending June 18th

Educational and environmental field trip to the Piñones State Forest:
This week we had one of the most rewarding activities of our educational program. Our Education Manager, Javier Cardona, and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers Helen Angell, Ivangs Rivera, Laura Fidalgo, and Diana Ferro, guided a group of twenty six (26) youngsters from different correctional institutions of the Island. They identified and classified the flora and fauna of Piñones and talked about the importance of the watershed’s environmental resources. Also, during the trip, the boys performed water quality monitoring tests in the Piñones lagoon.

Bird census:
Our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers and other members of the SJBEP explored a bird census' route by the Chiclana Creek in Caimito on June 15th. VISTA Laura Fidalgo, our Fauna Specialist, identified over 20 bird species and 7 plant species during the trip into this beautiful and diverse ecosystem. Community leader Juan Cruz served as our guide and told us about the history of Chiclana residents’ activism to get back the creek from an adjacent developer who filled it with sediment and rocks to build over it. The AmeriCorps VISTA group documented the expedition, which is part of their ecosystem-based economic growth initiative within estuarine communities.

Old San Juan and SJ Bay Educational Field Trip for over 100 Students:
Our Education Manager, Javier Cardona, with the assistance of our VISTA volunteers and staff, guided a big group of students from the Ponce de León School through the San Juan Bay, on May 17th. These students and their parents enjoyed a wonderful educational trip that began with a short workshop in our Visitor Center. The students and teachers performed water monitoring tests, cleanups and solid waste inventory.

Summer camps are here!
This week, our enthusiastic group of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers and other members of the SJBEP conducted various workshops in different community summer camps. On June 14th, VISTA volunteers Helen Angell, Laura Horta, and Diana Ferro led a talk about the history and importance of the Capetillo Urban Forest at the Summer Camp of the Capetillo Community.  VISTA Volunteers Rosana Betancourt, Laura Fidalgo, and Ysabel Díaz participated in this activity, and conducted workshops about trash on the street and guided a bird census.  On June 15th, our Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator, Harold Manrique, participated in an educational field trip in the community of Las Curias, San Juan. Our coordinator offered a talk to 70 students of diverse ages from the San Juan Municipality Summer Camp.

Highlights for the week ending June 11th

SJBE supports to EPA’S Office of Research and Development, Gulf Ecology Division:
After a successful meeting where Dr. Susan Yee, from the ORDs Gulf Ecology Division, presented the ongoing study “Integrating Ecosystem Services into Community-level Decision-Making: A San Juan, Puerto Rico Case Study,” the SJBE committed to support this initiative by sharing our knowledge of the ecosystem and the communities, as well as our scientific expertise.  The meeting, coordinated by our Program Manager Evelyn Huertas, assisted our Scientific Director, Dr. Jorge Bauzá, and our Outreach Manager, Gladys Rivera.  That same week, we assigned a resource to help the group identify areas to place mosquito traps in our communities.  Also, our Water Quality Coordinator, Harold Manrique, supported a monitoring and research field trip through the San José Lagoon.


Educational and environmental field trip by the Chiclana in Caimito: On June 7th our Education Manager, Javier Cardona, and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Helen Angell, guided a group of students from Aguas Buenas through the Chiclana creek.  The group of twenty (20) students learned about the San Juan Estuary Program, the flora and fauna of the Chiclana creek and the importance of environmental volunteer work. The community leader, Juan Cruz, recounted the community’s perseverance to save and preserve the creek, which is in process of restoration today, thanks to the support of volunteers and organizations like ours.  During the event, the students performed water quality monitoring tests in the creek.

Capacity building opportunities for our AmeriCorps VISTA participants: During this week, our VISTA volunteers participated in several training opportunities. Our Birds and Fauna Specialist, Laura Fidalgo, participated in the Long-Term Environmental Research (LTER) Symposium in El Verde Visitor Center at Luquillo, on June 9th. On June 7 and 8th, our GIS and Mapping Coordinator, Ysabel Díaz,  participated in a GIS coastal inundation mapping training at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus; and in the I-TREE workshop on June 11th, with our Trash Free Waters Coordinator, Rosana Betancourt.


Green Flag for the Condado Lagoon: This week, enterococcus readings for the Condado Lagoon complied with the federal standard. Here's the link to the report: