Puerto Rico loses seven nature reserves

Punta Petrona, Puerto Rico. Image: via El Nuevo Día
Protected areas

Via Repeating Islands, news that the government of Puerto Rico has rescinded protected areas designations for seven sites:

El Nuevo Día (22 July 2018) reports that, Puerto Rico lost seven nature reserves on July 3, after Governor Ricardo Rosselló annulled their designation as protected areas; his Planning Board claimed that there were procedural flaws and lack of community participation. Through two executive orders, Rosselló rescinded the designation of natural reserve for Mar Chiquita, Finca Nolla [Nolla Farm, a seaside area in Camuy], Río Camuy [Camuy River], Humedal Playa Lucía [Lucia Beach Wetlands], Punta Cabuyones, Punta Guilarte, and Punta Petrona. Former Planning Board director Luis García Pelatti said that eliminating natural reserves “is nonsensical, and what lies behind are construction interests.” Very sad news. Here are excerpts from today’s article:

The designations were contained in seven sectoral plans, which are documents that specify the allowed uses in natural reserves. The sectoral plans had been approved in December 2016, the last month of Alejandro García Padilla’s administration. Rosselló invalidated them and repealed the executive orders that the former governor had signed for the creation of natural reserves.

Rosselló’s justification for nullifying the sectoral plans, and to repeal García Padilla’s executive orders was that, since they were adopted at the end of the year, when there was a change of government, “the process of adoption and approval was carried out in a hurried and hasty manner, causing serious problems for the implementation of these documents.”

In essence, the Board, chaired by María Gordillo, determined that the previous administration did not allow for enough citizen participation in the drafting of sectoral plans, led to conflicting uses of the lands, and used as a basis documents that are not the current state of law.

To that end, the agency recommended the annulment of the documents so that “they may be reevaluated and resubmitted” to get the governor’s signature.

For more information see the original article from El Nuevo Día (en español) or  the excerpts translated into English at Repeating Islands.

[Image: via El Nuevo Día]

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