Monday, May 23, 2016

Highlights for the week ending May 21st

Guardians of the Estuary from the Emiliano Figueroa Elementary School in Piñones
The school semester is ending, and we’ve been wrapping up our educational projects for the 2015-16 school year. Last May 16th, our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers led a special closing event for the Guardians of the Estuary from the Emiliano Figueroa School, in the community of Piñones. The activity included folkloric dance performances by the students, the screening of a retrospective video put together by volunteer Zenaida Vázquez, and the reading of a short story written by volunteer and historian Laura Horta; which included a re-enactment of the battle between English invaders and Spanish soldiers that took place in the area in 1797. The Guardians of the Estuary have been an integral part of our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers’ work in the community of Piñones towards environment-based economic growth.
Photo by AmeriCorps VISTA Joselín E. Ramírez

International Museum Day
Last Saturday, the University of Turabo celebrated the International Museum Day at their Museum and Humanistic Studies Center Dra. Josefina Camacho de la Nuez. We were present with our informative table, and a presentation on our Program and Visitor Center in Old San Juan, provided by the Assistant to the Executive Director, Dr. Ruth Garcia.

Green Flag for the Condado Lagoon
Here are the results for this week’s Condado Lagoon Estuarine Reserve’s Monitoring Project. On average the reserve meet the federal standard of 35CFU/100mL reporting a total of 8.18CFU/100mL. 
Here’s the interactive graph:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Highlights for the week ending May 14th

Work plan and grant submitted:
One pivotal annual effort of the SJBEP is to submit its annual work plan and grant.  We thank Titin Foundation, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Municipality of San Juan, and Proyecto Enlace for their support providing matching funds for our annual grant with the National Estuary Program.   Thank to this grant we will continue our on-the-ground habitat restoration and enhancement activities, as well as our Visitor Center, education and communications program and the SJBEP’s offices.  

Old San Juan and Bay Educational Field Trip for over 150 Students:
This was a successful week for our educational initiatives. Our AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers and other members of the SJBE guided four (4) different groups of students from Amiga School in Dorado, Juan Antonio Corretjer School in Ciales, Onofre Carballeira Umpiere School in Cataño and Carmen Delia Colón Martinez School in Aibonito, through the San Juan Bay in Old San Juan. On May 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th, these students enjoyed a wonderful educational trip that began with a short workshop in our Visitor Center. The students and teacher interacted in the field and learned about the San Juan Estuary Program, the flora and fauna and the importance of environmental volunteer work. The students also had the opportunity to do water monitoring exercises, beach cleaning and classify various types of debris or trash in beach sand.

Book Donations:
On May 9th, our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers made the fourth donation, from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus to the library of the Emiliano Figueroa Elementary School in Piñones.  This is part of the ongoing VISTA initiative to identify economic growth opportunities based in the environment in the community.

Lionfish population control pilot project:
Our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Ivangs Rivera Aponte, M.S., with the assistance of fellow volunteers Diana Ferro, Victoria Solero, and Laura Horta, led a third lionfish population control activity. On May 14th, 14 volunteers participated on the event. They performed a lionfish inventory in the artificial modules and mangrove planting project of the SJBEP located north of the Condado Lagoon. Five lionfish were captured. After this activity, Ivangs Rivera held a talk about this invasive species to people in the area.

Visitor Center
This week our Visitor Center continued receiving dozens of tourists, students and general public in an interesting journey through the past and present of the Martín Peña Channel communities. On May 14th, sixty-four (64) members of the Puerto Rico Historic Building Drawing Society visited our Center to appreciate the building structure and to receive a talk about the SJBEP actions, the importance of the San Juan Bay estuary and the relevance of be part of the volunteers efforts.  

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:

Highlights for the week ending May 7th

Climate change curricular lessons:
This week, our Educational Manager Javier Cardona and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Helen Angell facilitated climate change curricular lessons for public school students at CREARTE. On April 3rd and May 4th , sixteen (16) and thirteen  (13) students, respectively, acquired  important knowledge about climate change and its consequences in our communities.  
Water Quality Volunteer Monitoring Program:
This was a very active week for our Monitoring Program. On May 2nd, our Water Monitoring Program Coordinator, Harold Manrique, monitored 7 creeks as part of our Riparian Pilot Protect.

For results of parameters measured visit the following link:

Also, on May 3rd, our Coordinator monitored the Las Curias lake for fecal bacteria (Enterococcus and E.Coli). The samples were sent to the laboratory and will be available in two weeks. Finally, on May 5th 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 29.61CFU/100mL.

Link to the results:

Beach Cleaning and trash categorization of 625 pounds of debris:
Today Puerto Rico is cleaner thanks to the action and example of the Estuary Guardians of the Miguel Melendez Muñoz School, in Bayamón. 625 pounds of trash were collected, cataloged, and weighed in a huge beach cleaning and marine trash workshop. On May 7th, parents and teachers joined the students in the coastal area between Isla de Cabra and the old river mouth of the Bayamon River in this environmental and community initiative. Our Education Manager Javier Cardona, and the AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Rosanna Betancourt, coordinated the successful activity.

Lionfish population control pilot project:
On May 6th our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Ivangs Rivera Aponte, M.S., led the second lionfish population control activity. Four volunteers participated in this event. This day about fourteen (14) lionfish were counted in the area of artificial modules and nine (9) in the mangroves area north of Condado Lagoon. Some of them were captured. After this interesting activity, Rivera-Aponte held a briefing and a workshop for people in the area. They learned about the lionfish, its risk to the marine ecosystem and about consumption of the species as a control alternative.

Highlights for the week of April 30th

Bird census at Luis Muñoz Marín Park:
On April 26th we performed a bird census at Luis Muñoz Marín Park in San Juan. We counted 31 bird species. This activity was led by our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, Diana Ferro and Laura Fidalgo, with the special  contribution of Tania Marrero, from the municipality of San Juan. This effort is part of the VISTA group's ongoing initiative to create environment-based economic growth in our watershed's communities.

Climate change curricular lessons:
This week our Educational Manager, Javier Cardona, and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Helen Angell, facilitated climate change curricular lessons for public school students at the Papa Juan XXIII School and Pachín Marín School. Dozens of students learned about the estuary and the effects of climate change in our communities. Also, on April 28th the students from the Pachín Marín School had the opportunity to participate in a mask workshop conducted by Javier Cardona. The activity served to attract students to the discussion on endangered species and invasive species. Art empowers our environmental message based on the framework of education as the practice of freedom.

Monitoring station:  
As part of our current efforts to expand the Estuarine Water Quality Volunteer Monitoring Program of the entity, we are happy to announce our new water quality monitoring lab. Located within our Visitor Center, it will serve as a new space to examine water samplings, as well as other ecosystem indicators of our watershed.

Dune Restoration Pilot Project in Piñones:
Our Science Director, Dr. Jorge F. Bauzá- began a dune restoration pilot project in the dunes of the community of Piñones. As part of the project we installed bamboo sand-retaining fences, which are supposed to help form a new dune. As part of the pilot project, we also planted shrubs to strengthen the sand. Several volunteers conducted coastal profile and beach cleaning.  

We thank our AmeriCorps volunteer, Ivangs Rivera, MSc, who was a leader in the activity, as well as other fifteen (15) estuarine volunteers, to whom we owe the success of the activity.

Here’s a short video:

Highlights for the week ending April 23rd

SJBEP’s climate change project on the news:
This week we are pleased to share with you a newspaper story published at “El Nuevo Dia" which covers our work to document community adaptation to climate change in our urban estuary. We congratulate Dr. Katia Aviles for the design and implementation of the methodology for this valuable study and Dr. Jorge Bauzá for his leadership on the issue.
Planet Earth Week-Knowledge acquisition of the estuary reaches up to 100%:
As part of our ongoing community capacity building initiative and celebrating Planet Earth Week, we continued our education activities through talks and workshops. From the 18th to 20th of April, Lourdes Hernandez, Harold Manrique ―and Americorp VISTAs Rosana Betancourt and Victoria Solero― offered educational talks and water quality monitoring workshops in Río Hondo Mall and Plaza del Sol in Bayamón, as well as in el Banco de Desarrollo Económico and the Ecological Environment Society of the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. More than 300 students and general public learned about the San Juan Bay Estuary, the flora and fauna of our area, the water quality monitoring, and the importance of volunteer work. Knowledge acquisition rounded from 80% to 100%, and several groups learned for the first time what is an estuary and the importance of this ecosystem.

Climate change and stormwater curricular lessons:
We offered curricular lessons about the topic of climate change and stormwater pollution prevention to the República de Colombia and Pachín Marín Schools. Tens of students met with our Educational Manager, Javier Cardona, and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Helen Angell, and learned about the estuary, the effects of climate change and the problem of stormwater pollution in our tropical ecosystem.
Estuary Guardians School Program:
On April 20th, twenty-two (22) students from the Emiliano Figueroa School of Piñones participated of several activities offered by our VISTA volunteers Helen Angell, Rosana Betancourt, Laura Horta and Diana Ferro. Students learned about Zero Waste and participated of workshops using debris to create sculptures.  Activities in this school are part of the VISTA’s ongoing efforts towards creating environment-based economic opportunities in the community of Piñones.

Dune Restoration in Piñones Beach:
On Thursday we tested the method that we will use next week in our dune restoration project. Our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, Ivangs Rivera, Zenaida Vázquez and Joselín Ramírez helped us with the project on the coastal zone of Piñones. This event is part of the Citizen Science and Dune Restoration initiatives and our Climate Ready Estuaries adaptation action plan.

Beach cleaning:
Vacía Talega beach was the scenario for this week's beach cleaning activity. Our AmeriCorps VISTA Rosana Betancourt and Diana Ferro led the students from the “Asociación Estudiantil de Salud Ambiental” (AESA) of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, in an effort to enhance our coastal environment and encourage voluntary work.
Visitor Center
Finishing our successful educational week, on Earth Day, April 22th 2016, our Visitor Center received a group of students from the School of San Juan and a multigrade group of students from the “Taller de Fotoperiodismo” at Martín García of Carolina. Both groups learned about the history of the Martín Peña Channel’s communities, the environmental and social problems in the channel and the importance of the rehabilitation of this body of water. Our Education Manager, Javier Cardona, and Water Monitoring Program Coordinator, Harold Manrique, guided educational and water monitoring tours in the fringes of the San Juan Bay and the ecosystems of the Old City. The students learned how to take and analyze water samples for parameters such as dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and turbidity.

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: