TPL Awarded $1 Million for Puerto Rico Land Conservation

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, 3/13/2009: The Trust for Public Land has been awarded $1 million in federal wetlands conservation funding for its work in Puerto Rico’s San Miguel Natural Reserve, it was announced today.

Funding was approved for a 152-acre site on Puerto Rico’s coast by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC) during its meeting on March 11. TPL’s project had been recommended by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council for funding under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). The Act provides federal funding to encourage partnerships to protect, enhance, restore, and manage wetlands and other habitats for migratory birds and other fish and wildlife.

The award supports TPL’s acquisition of a 152-acre site in Puerto Rico, known as the San Miguel Natural Reserve. Located within the Northeast Ecological Corridor (NEC), the site includes a mosaic of coastal habitats including coral reefs, more than a mile of beachfront, wetlands, coastal dry forests, mangroves, the confluence of two rivers and the remnants of a 19th century hacienda used for sugar cane farming. The site will be combined with an adjacent 260 acres already acquired by TPL in 2007 and will include public access for recreational and nature based uses together with protection of natural habitats found on the site.

“We are pleased and honored to receive this support from MBCC,” said Mildred Ramos Majoros, TPL’s project manager for Puerto Rico. “As habitat for threatened and endangered species, the San Miguel project area has few rivals in the Caribbean. It is worth noting that located in or nearthe San Miguel property and its near-shore waters are 36 of the 42 species that the NEC wasdesigned to protect, including Leatherback sea turtles, Brown Pelicans, Piping Plovers, RoseateTerns, Puerto Rico Plain Pigeons, Hawksbill Turtles, Green Sea Turtles, West Indian Manatees,and both Elkhorn and Staghorn Coral.”

The San Miguel lands include large strands of intact and ecologically functional wetlands along with an undeveloped coastal shore which is home to many birds and wildlife, including 14 which are listed federally threatened and endangered. Three are NAWCA high priority species: Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, and Mallard; five are NAWCA priority species: Ring-Necked Duck, American Wigeon, Wood Duck, Redhead, and Canvasback. The acquisition will protect wetlands that support waterfowl species, and also will provide habitat for at least 50 other bird species, including seabirds, coastal waterbirds, wading birds and marshbirds. The site is also one of the most important nesting grounds for federally endangered leatherback sea turtles in the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Because of its ecological value and unique biodiversity, the San Miguel site is considered a priority acquisition by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service’s International Institute of Tropical Forestry, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

TPL’s San Miguel project was one of 25 land acquisitions approved for more than $24 million by the MBCC.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.5 million acres in 46 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations and corporations.