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DNER to continue major conservation plan with the $7.5 million purchase of northern region lands
The purchase is part of some 50,000 acres the agency has designated for protection by 2008; it also plans to buy another 100,000 acres for conservation by 2012
By JOHN MCPHAUL
May 6, 2005
The Department of Natural & Environmental Resources (DNER) this year plans to spend $7.5 million to acquire about 936.4 acres in Puerto Ricos northern region, as part of a conservation plan that includes the total purchase of 150,000 acres by 2012, for a total of $700 million, according to DNER Secretary Javier Veléz.
The DNER plans to acquire for conservation the 325-acre José A. Figueroa farm in Adjuntas Saltillo ward ($2.9 million), to be included in the Guilarte Forest; the 425-acre Pizá farm in Vega Bajas Yeguada ward ($2.9 million); and the 212.8-acre Nolia farm in Manatís Coco ward ($1.7 million), the latter two to become part of the Tortuguero Lagoon.
"We estimate that from 2004 to 2008 we will have acquired an estimated 50,000 acres. The total cost of the project for 2012 is projected to be around $700 million," DNER Secretary Javier Veléz said in a recent report to Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. He also states that DNER has the priority to acquire an additional 100,000 acres, dubbed Herencia 100,000 (Heritage 100,000), currently funded by a $20 million appropriation assigned in September 2003.
Local Law 268 indicates an estimated 5% of the total area of Puerto Rico is currently protected, a quantity well below other Latin American and Caribbean countries. About 85% of the islands forests are in private hands. The law states land with high ecological value will be chosen for conservation to protect water, air, and land resources.
Other lands the DNER is eyeing to acquire for conservation include the RN Torrecilla Alta No. 2 farm, 467.2 acres with an estimated value of $683,915 in Carolina, and Bahía Ballena (Whale Bay) in Guánicas El Carenero ward, yet to be measured and is estimated to cost about $1 million. Others include RN Torrecilla Alta No. 3 in Carolina, with 326 acres, which is estimated to cost $161,480; the Teófilo Piñero farm, an unstated location, would cost $848,000; and La Matilde farm in the Punta Cucharas sector of Ponces Cañas ward, estimated at $1.06 million. The future purchases also include José Ayala farm in Vega Baja, yet unmeasured, estimated to cost $380,540, and DuPont No. 2 farm in Vega Baja, unmeasured, estimated at $2.5 million.
Law No. 268, effective Sept. 5, 2003, established the Fund for the Acquisition & Conservation of Land in Puerto Rico, assigning an initial $20 million for the purchase of land to be included in protected areas. The law also establishes a mechanism to replenish the fund with 50% of the Used Oil Management Fund and other sources, such as private donations and federal funds. The law also requires the fund maintain a $5 million balance. The fund currently has a $10.56 million balance.
In 2004, the fund was used to obtain a total 1,126 acres. Federal funds were used to acquire a 102-acre farm from the Puerto Rico Land Authority, which was incorporated into the Bahía de Jobos (Jobos Bay) Estuarian Investigation National Reserve in the Guayama / Salinas area, as well as two farms to protect karst lands in the northern part of the island and three plots totaling 1.3 acres, to be incorporated into the New Millennium Urban Forest in San Juan.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.