Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This is NOT Effective Conservation

I wonder what ever happened to the tour operators who did this?

Monday, February 26, 2007

How are those trees doing?

The hillside up on our revegetation project is looking pretty dry. It feels like we switched from wet season to dry season overnight. Here are some pictures of our trees planted last summer:

Pandanus tectoriousGliricidia sepium<br />Callophyllum inophyllumThespesia pulpuneaClick HERE for more information on these trees, along with pictures taken of them in August. There's been some growth, hasn't there? The Acacia confusa are doing the best.

I hope that we can keep the hillside from burning this year. All of our work last year will have been for nothing if our trees burn.

It won't be easy; It looks pretty dry:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Is anyone bleeding?

The Micronesia Challenge seeks to "Effectively Conserve 30% of our near shore resources and 20% of our forest resources by 2020." A huge part of "Effective Conservation" is educating our children about our environment, especially on coral reefs, watersheds, and how the two are related in the CNMI and the rest of Micronesia.

The Mariana Islands Nature Alliance and the Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council, the two leading environmental non-profits in the CNMI, have been leading groups of local students on field trips to the Laulau Watershed for the last several months.

You can add 27 students and 2 teachers to the list of people that have been on the Angelo Villagomez Death March, um, I mean, Laulau Watershed Revegetation Project Field Trip.

The 6th grade students at Tanapag Elementary are learning about the environment. Their teacher, Miss Eileen Babauta, contacted me to see if I could either come into the class or show the kids where I work. Last week they had someone from the Division of Environmental Quality come into their classroom to talk about nonpoint source pollution. Today they got to climb up on a mountain (that's right, I work on a mountain!) to get a first hand look at nonpoint source. Exciting, I know!

I took the kids to the top of Mt. Laulau and they were able to point out the different sources of pollution leaching into Laulau Bay. They noticed things like agriculture, roads, houses, and golf courses in Kagman, San Vicente, and Dan Dan.

Any kid who goes on one of my field trips is responsible for learning one thing; they have to be able to repeat this simple mantra:

"What we do on the land can affect our marine environment."

Even though I make them repeat it no less than 30 times, it is really easy to get the kids excited about saying this mantra. Before we step onto the trail to start the hike, I lay out some rules about safety and having fun. Then I tell them that they only have to learn one thing on the field trip. This always gets them excited because kids like being told that they're not learning (even when they really are).

After I tell them the mantra, I ask one of the kids to repeat it back to me. There is always some hesitation on the kids' part, and sometimes it takes a couple of tries, but the first student to get it right wins a pack of Mentos (that's candy for those of you who don't remember those Mentos commercials from the 1990's).

When they see that answering a question wins them candy, all hesitation on the part of the kids goes away for the rest of the field trip.

This was the rowdiest bunch of kids I've taken on a field trip so far this year. My nephew, Edmund Villagomez, was their teacher last year. They figured this out in the first few minutes of our hike, which made us all instant friends. They even started calling me Mr. V and Mr. Villa-gorgeous...because that is what they call Edmund.

The thorns were really bad on this trip. I mean really bad. Really, really bad. Once the field trip was over and we were back on the bus I asked if anyone was bleeding.

I think pretty much everyone, including the teachers, raised their hands! Bleeding and still smiling?!?! Another successful field trip!

If you would like to experience the thorns and blistering heat at the Laulau Watershed Revegetation Project, please schedule a field trip with Angelo Villagomez at the Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council office, 236-0894, or his cellphone, 483-1078, or via email angelovillagomez@gmail.com.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dive, Snorkel, Protect

This video was made by Coastal Resource Management Office in Saipan to help tourists and locals take better care of our coral reefs. This version is in English. I am working on getting the Japanese and Korean version online, too.

Everyone who lives here should watch this video! Please repost this on your blog and/or forward it around to your friends.


Tree Care Workshop - Wrapup

Last week 13 participants from RC&D, CUC, DPW, Parks & Recreation, CNMI Forestry, and members of the Legislature took part in a Tree Care Workshop coordinated by Beautify CNMI! and Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council.

The idea for a tree care workshop was initiated by Captain Carl Brachear during a Restoration Committee meeting. He noticed that some of our government partners could be doing a better job when it came to trimming trees along our roads and under our power lines. We've been working on a plan for this workshop for months, but it wasn't until MVA donated some seed money that we could get the ball rolling.

For two days the participants learned about tree care, tree biology, tree maintenance, and how to plant and trim trees. On each day there was a classroom session in the morning, followed by an amazing lunch at Aoi Restaurant at the Grand Hotel, with more classroom after lunch, followed by work out in the field in the afternoon. On the first day we planted Flame Trees along Beach Road and on the second day we trimmed mango trees in Kagman.

A big thank you to Captain Carl Brachear for providing the idea to have this workshop, MVA for providing the seed money to get this workshop rolling (this paid for airfare from Guam and some of our workshop supplies), Grand Hotel for providing Hotel and meeting space for our trainers from Guam, Ken Kramer for coordinating the whole thing, Roland and Ilene for coming over from Guam, and other Beautify CNMI! donors and participants for making this successful workshop possible.

The agencies came out of the workshop with a better understanding of tree care and maintenance and a willingness to work together to make the CNMI a better place to live and visit. The Restoration Committee is going to gather the participants together in the next few weeks so that we can come together on a plan of action. Although we haven't decided what project we want to work on, we have already talked about replacing the Flame Trees on Beach Road and other places on island, removing the trees from under the power lines that shouldn't be there, and/or lining some of our other streets with other species of trees.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Front Page News...Twice in one week!

Roland QuituguaTREE CARE TRAINING: Marianas Resource Conservation and Development Council president Roland Quitugua shows the root of a flame tree that was damaged by a bush cutter on Beach Road during the Tree Care and Trimming Workshop initiated by the restoration committee of the Beautify CNMI! on Participants from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., Department of Public Works, Department of Lands and Natural Resources and Legislature attended the training. (Jacqueline Hernandez)

Kagman Educational IslandWHAT IS A WETLAND: Kagman High School students look at a sign that describes the characteristics of a wetland during yesterday's ribbon cutting ceremony for the Kagman Educational Island, which is a joint project of the Coastal Resource Management Office and the Marianas Resource and Conservation Office. (Jacqueline Hernandez)

Friday, February 02, 2007

2006 Earth Team Awards

Click HERE to see the list of 2006 Earth Team Award Winners.

Guess who won the National Earth Team Group Volunteer Award? That right: MOVER!

In three short months MOVER was able to rack up over 1000 volunteer hours.

MOVER is an acronym for Multisectoral Overseas Filipino Workers Movement. Every Sunday (and sometimes Saturday) since June they have volunteered with RC&D and Beautify CNMI. In the last 8 months we have worked together to plant trees, clean beaches, clean streams, clean roads, restore tourist, historical, and natural spots, and generally make the CNMI a better place to live and visit.

This is the second national award for MOVER; a few years back they won an award from EPA. The USDA award will be officially presented to MOVER in February or March.

Thank you, MOVER!

The MOVERs are: Isabel Amarille, Ciaralyn C. Apostol, Rodolfo Abeleda, Roben Bachicha, Leonides Bansagan, Nieves Casta, Rey A. Castillo, Marites Aquino Castillo, Jimmy Candolita, Ranilo De Belen, Diomedes Duculan, Francisco Flores Jr., Ermelita Fernandez, Marites E. Fabros, Radino Garcia, Camilo Laoeng, Zenaida Lira, Adolfo Lumbad, Carmela Lumbad, Antonieta Mateo, Dominga Magbitang, Charina Manabat, Melecia Marquez, Kaela Mae Millano, Salvador Sellabe Jr., Carmela Sapiten, Presila Ramboanga, Federico Tamayo, Rene A. Vergara, Jessielyn Jurado, Ismaela Fernandez, Juanita Cabo, Ernesto Maicle, Loreto Cabo, Serafen Fernandez Jr., Alecia Garcia, Roberto Lopez Jr., Tina Marie Alverio, Bayani De Tobio, Mary Grace Rico, Ruperto Magtapat, Lucia Licen, Abelardo Casido, Teresita Banola, Edgardo Antalan, Rodrigo Estoque, Yolanda Jurado, Ervin Jurado, and Emmalin Jurado.

Here are some pictures from the last several months:

June 2006
Planting Flame Trees along Beach Road.

July 2006

Planting native trees at the Laulau Revegetation project site.

August 2006

Turning the abandoned airfield and police substation in Koblerville into a public park...and eating a little BBQ along the way.

September 2006

We did more than just work. After all of our successes over the summer, we spent an afternoon swimming and barbecuing on Managaha Island.

October 2006

Participating in 1020 on 10/20, the CNMI's largest one day cleanup. Over 3,380 volunteers participated in this event by planting trees, cleaning trash, and painting over graffiti.

November 2006

MOVER was the first community group to adopt a spot...they were also the first group to adopt 4 spots...no kidding. Here they are after a cleanup of the Garapan Tourist District.

December 2006

Cleaning muck out of drainage ditches. This is a job that nobody wants to do, but MOVER does it on their days off.

January 2007

One of our first activities this year was restoring the Lighthouse on top of Navy Hill. We removed trash and cut back weeds.