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EPA Awards More Than $100,000 to Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust to Support Conservation and Education Programs for Bioluminescent Bay

Release Date: 04/05/2011
Contact Information: Brenda Reyes, (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov, John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced $111,513 in grant funding to support efforts by the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust to preserve the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay and to educate students about the need to protect the bay. Mosquito Bay is the only pristine bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico.

“The bioluminescent Mosquito Bay is one of Puerto Rico’s most spectacular ecological features and is a major tourist attraction,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “Minimizing the toll human activity takes on the bay – especially from sediment runoff that can harm water quality – is very important. The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust, with EPA’s support, will begin the important work of keeping pollution out of Mosquito Bay, while passing a conservation commitment along to a generation of children who could be future stewards of the bay.”

The Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust, through a $74,999 grant, will develop and implement a program to prevent sediment and runoff from a nearby access road from reaching Mosquito Bay. Changes to the bay’s water quality, such as turbidity (how clear the water is), may alter the habitat of dinoflagellate, the microscopic organisms that inhabit Mosquito Bay, emitting light that gives the bay its luminescence. The Trust will coordinate with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and EPA on the two-year-long project. As part of this grant, the Trust will also implement a conservation certification program for Mosquito Bay guides and tour operators in coordination with DNER, as well as workshops on reducing water pollution for enforcement, elected officials, hospitality and tourism leaders, and the members of the construction industry.

EPA has also awarded a $36,514 grant to the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust for its environmental education program MANTA Sabado (Moviemento en Apoyo a Nuestros Tesoros Ambientales, or Movement in Support of Our Environmental Treasures). The program provides 50 students the chance to learn about Mosquito Bay through interactive classroom activities, lectures from local experts and field work. Participating students will organize and conduct a public meeting that focuses on stewardship plans to reduce pollution that affects Mosquito Bay.

The Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources has classified the bay as a “Class SA” water body, which means it that it is of high quality or of exceptional ecological or recreational value, and cannot be altered except by natural causes.

For more information on EPA’s work in Puerto Rico, go to http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/states/pr.html.

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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