EPA Applauds Environmental Champions in Puerto Rico
(New York, N.Y.) Eleven individuals and organizations from Puerto Rico received top honors today from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their work to protect the environment. Their exemplary efforts were recognized as they were presented with EPA Environmental Quality Awards by EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg during a ceremony today in EPA’s New York offices. In addition, the Agency recognized two recipients from New York for winning the nation-wide President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA).
“These exemplary environmental stewards have gone above and beyond for environmental change in local communities,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “Let their extraordinary contributions remind us all that we can make our world a better place and individuals really inspire others and make a lasting difference.”
EPA selects Environmental Quality Award winners from non-profit environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media, as well as from federal, state, local or tribal governments and agencies. The honor is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the environment and public health in EPA Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally-recognized Indian Nations. The Agency receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside EPA. For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, go to http://www.epa.gov/region02/eqa/.
2008 ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AWARD WINNERS
Dr. Luis Raúl Colón Rivera
Cidra, Puerto Rico
Dr. Colón has been a pro-bono human ecology professor at Notre Dame High School in Caguas since 2003. He engages students in critical thinking about their behavior towards their surroundings and the environment. He successfully helped organize the school’s environmental club, a recycling program, an Environmental Ecology Congress and tree plantings. Five of his students won awards in 2006 given by local newspaper El Nuevo Día and the Puerto Rico Senate for making a Human Ecology course for high school students compulsory.
Comite Timon Conservacion Ambiental – COTICAM
Manatí, Puerto Rico
Frank Cross is the President of the Committee of Community Development, Agricultural Extension Service and President of Future Farmers of America. He is also co-founder of an environmental quality committee called el Comite Timon de Calidad Ambiental (COTICAM). He is a tireless, outstanding, environmental steward, has spearheaded an investigation of the source of contamination in drinking water wells, and forest conservation in Rio Abajo and Dos Bocas Lake in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
José Marrero Torrado
Utuado, Puerto Rico
José Marrero Torrado had a long, distinguished, history of environmental stewardship. During his tenure with the U.S. Forest Service in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, thousands of acres of abandoned land were acquired and converted into the Carite Forest, Rio Abajo Forest, Guajataca Forest, Gularte Forest and Susua Forest. Mr. Marrero Torrado supervised the planting and growth of 30 million trees, and helped create unique ecosystems in 20,000 acres throughout the island. He also taught tree propagation and reforestation courses to international students.
Maraida Balaguer Barbosa
Añasco, Puerto Rico
Maraida Barbosa has been a girl scout since the age of seven and has devoted her life to improving her community. She is engaged in environmental protection activities such as recycling, beach cleanups, and ecology and community service. For her Senior Community Service Scouting Project, she educated her community on recycling and transformed her house into a recycling center where residents could leave there recyclable waste. In April 2007, Maraida was recognized by the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Management Authority for her environmental work.
BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
EcoEléctrica is the first independent power producer in Puerto Rico, shifting from fuel oil to natural gas, the cleanest fossil derived fuel. Using innovative techniques for transplanting seagrasses and corals, EcoEléctrica exceeded their requirements, and the corals contributed to the partial restoration of an impacted coral reef. EcoEléctrica has also monitored manatees, and planted mangroves. They have refrained from using fresh water reservoirs as they produce potable water from sea water.
FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL, OR TRIBAL GOVERNMENT OR AGENCY
Public Building Authority of Puerto Rico
Escuela Ecológica Carmelo Delgado
Escuela Ecológica Carmelo Delgado was awarded the best built project of 2007 by the Engineers and the Land Surveyors Association of Puerto Rico. The school’s architectural, electrical and plumbing components are designed to incorporate many environmentally sound practices. The building is the first to implement the new “Net Metering” law and the first to implement the new Interconnection protocols between a private user and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
Municipality of Guaynabo
The goal of the Municipality of Guaynabo is to make a positive contribution to the solid waste disposal problem in Puerto Rico. The Municipality has approved a local ordinance to enforce its recycling initiative, which requires the participation of all local residents, businesses and industries. Guaynabo’s residents and institutions have helped achieve the goal of recycling 35% of the solid waste that is received in the local landfill. Since its inception in 2003, the Municipality of Guaynabo’s recycling program has become a model for other municipalities.
University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla
Vida Marina is the first Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The goal of the program is to reduce the amount of monofilament fishing line in the aquatic environment of Puerto Rico. The program has impacted many different demographic groups and has served as a great training opportunity for dozens of future marine conservation biologist and environmental educators. Vida Marina has installed 45 monofilament recycling containers all around the island of Puerto Rico. And the program has recovered an incredible 430 pounds of fishing line since ---February 2007.
NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, ENVIRONMENTAL OR COMMUNITY GROUP
Rescata Playas Isabela, Inc.
Lourdes Irizzary founded a non-profit community group in Puerto Rico and, within its first 18 months of existence, she helped residents, businesses and government agencies start a recycling program; conduct beach and mangrove cleanups; adopt and maintain a previously littered section of the Beach Road under an “Adopt a Highway” program; and, beautify the area with colorful murals. Irizzary also encouraged municipalities to install large trash cans on beaches and other clean beach initiatives.
San Juan Bay Estuary Program
Mangrove Restoration Project
The San Juan Bay Estuary has the task of stewarding the estuary’s protection. They successfully planted more than 100 red mangroves in the Condado Lagoon in Puerto Rico. This effort was used as an educational experience for local area children who visited the site and helped plant the seedlings. The experience was designed to highlight the importance of these efforts for current purposes and for future generations.
PRESS & MEDIA
NuevaVisión’s mission is to enrich the lives of Puerto Rico’s residents through quality television programming, education and outreach services. During the year 2007, NuevaVisión produced over 18 hours of special programming associated to the protection of our environmental resources. Two series were developed and through the broadcast and re-broadcasting of the series, the audience received 45 hours of educational programming focused on environmental protection and finding solutions to two major environmental problems: solid waste management and the use and conservation of water as a natural resource.
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