Friday, May 25, 2007

Coming soon to an RC&D near you!

Part of my NFWF grant pays for publicity materials. We finally got around to ordering them this week. They should be ready next week.

We are purchasing 170 canvass bags that look like this:

Our slogan this year has been, "what we do on the land can affect our marine environment." These bags will help people understand how garbage, litter, and recycling affect our coral reef ecosystems, especially our turtle populations.

We are also ordering 650 bumper stickers and a 10' x 4' banner that look like this:

The bumper stickers will do the same they are pretty.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Laulau Revegetation Site Visit

No burns so far this year...sort of. That makes me feel like this:

Angelo VillagomezHappy.

When I say sort of, I mean that the reveg project hasn't burned. Someone just used slash and burn to clear the land just north of the project.

The project itself is surviving. It is really hot and really dry. I honestly don't know how any of the trees have survived the dry season.

We'll be back up here in about two months to plant over 1000 new saplings. The fill kill tree seeds have done really well, I'm sure we'll be broadcasting a lot of them, too. In the meantime, PLEASE don't burn this hillside!

Do it for the children!

Kagman Educational IslandToday was my third day in a row working with school kids. Last Friday I was at Saipan Southern High School for all but one period, yesterday I went down to Laulau with San Vicente Elementary, and this morning I was in Kagman with Hopwood Junior High School.

The teachers wanted to take the kids on an educational field trip, so they contacted me to see if they could arrange a visit to the Kagman Educational Island.

I'm not 100% on all of the details, but the Educational Island is a part of the USDA irrigation project in Kagman. It is usually locked, but can be opened for school sponsored field trips. It has a natural area, a constructed wetland, a system of trails, fruit trees, and some historical artifacts.

It makes for a great field trip location, from elementary up to graduate level work.

Educational IslandEducational IslandEducational IslandBree gave me about five minutes to give my "What we do on the land can affect our marine environment" spiel. Then I let the kids run loose in the jungle.

Educational IslandWith the kids off running around, I, um, mean, learning on their own, Ken and I explored the trails a bit. Here we are having a bit of fun:

I'm so cool.

Ken KramerKen is checking out the bamboo fence. He decided that we need to paint it...Ken, don't we have enough work already?

luzonThat is Sami and this is a luzon. A luzon is a large mortar and pestle (sans pestle) used by the ancient Chamorros to grind stuff up. There are three of them at the Educational Island.

BridgesThere are also some bridges crossing over the channel connecting one constructed wetland to the next. It is the end of the dry season, so there is no rain. If I took this picture in a few months, I'd be standing in two feet of water.

After we visited the Educational Island we went down Tank Beach to finish our lesson and to have a beach cleanup. The USDA funded irrigation project drains into Tank Beach. It is still the dry season, so there was no draining to be seen today.

Tank Beach CleanupTank Beach CleanupThere was, however, plenty of trash. If you ever want to have a cleanup, many hands make light work. Here are some of the kids about half way through our cleanup:

Hopwood Junior High School Students at Tank BeachEven Ken and I got in on the action. Well, I actually didn't pick up any trash; I just helped some of the girls carry their bags.

Ken KramerAngelo Villagomez Tank Beach SaipanBree Reynolds deserves a lot of the credit for putting together this great field trip. Here we are sporting our new Coral Reef Alliance shirts:

Bree Reynolds Angelo Villagomez Tank BeachThanks Coral Reef Alliance! Those blue bags contain 1350 lbs of marine debris.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Earth Team Volunteers Only!

RC&D just placed an order for 170 canvass shopping bags. Want one? You have to be an Earth Team Volunteer...and then you have to volunteer...three times. The canvass bags will be ready next week.

One side has the Beautify CNMI logo. The other side has a big turtle and the text:
Protect Our Coral Reefs
"What we do on the land
can affect our marine environment"
Plastic Kills!
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Contact RC&D at 236-0893 to become an Earth Team volunteer today!

Beach Road Flame Trees

Angelo VillagomezThose 22 Flame Trees that we planted on Beach Road last year are doing pretty well...well, except for the ones that died. That's expected, though, I guess. About seven of them were killed. Some of the ones that lived though are pretty tall.

Ken KramerKen is 6'3". That tree has gone from a little two foot sapling to over 10 feet. Woot!

As for the ones that died, it may have been cars or salt spray, but my guess is that the bushcutters belonging to Parks & Recreation did it. Check out this damage on some of the surviving trees caused by bushcutters:

We've learned that we're not going to change the behavior of the guys using the bushcutters, so we're going to have to be smarter.

Tomorrow afternoon, Ken and I are going to put mulch around the base of the surviving trees. When we plant the 76 Flame Trees that have been adopted under our Adopt-a-Flame Tree program, we are going to mulch those trees, too.

Live and Learn. The rest of our trees are going to look like this:

Saipan Flame Tree

Lastest Laulau Cleanup

This morning over 100 6th graders from San Vicente Elementary helped us clean up the the south end of Laulau Beach. They were chaperoned by their teachers and volunteers from Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council, MINA, Rep. Kaipat's Office and Friends of the Mariana Islands.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rainy days are here again least this week.

Today is another rainy day. We've had over three months with almost no rain, so the Laulau Revegeation project should be getting a much needed thirst quencher.

We are going to bring three busloads of Hopwood Junior High School students up to the revegeation site next Tuesday. I hope that we can go another week without burning.

After we take the kids to the reveg site, we are going to take them to the USDA Education Island, and then to Tank and/or Marine Beach for a Marine Debris Removal Event (a.k.a. a beach cleanup).

EPA Award

Beautify CNMI was presented with an Environmental Award by EPA Region 9 this month. RC&D led the Restoration Committee of Beautify CNMI! and coordinated the sign up of Earth Team Volunteers.

Pictured are PIC Angelo Villagomez, Coordinator Ken Kramer (me), and FMI President, Marites Castillo, winner of the 2006 Earth Team Group Award. The three of us worked very closely last year planting trees, cleaning beaches, and promoting environmental stewardship of our islands.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What ever happened to...

...the owners of boat that did this:

I shot that video on Janurary 14, 2007 while diving Dimple. Four months later to the day, I wonder if the owners or the operators of the Pioneer III, the boat that dragged this anchor across our coral reef, ever charged with any crime?

I know that the resource agencies did an investigation. Did anything come of it?

Ken's first post

Hafa Adai,

This is my first of many postings for the new Trails and Parks committee. I am learning to blog thanks to PIC.


Real Men Don't Burn

In 2006 the Laulau watershed was burned by deer hunters during the month of May. We've been lucky this year that no one has burned our revegetation project.

There is almost no way to police the area, so we just keep our fingers crossed that no one burns it this year.

Yesterday was the rainiest day that Saipan has had since the beginning of February; it rained on and off the entire day. I hope that the rain is a signal that the rainy season is on the way.

Once it starts raining again it will be difficult to burn the entire hillside. Like I said, our fingers are crossed.

It would a real disappointment if all of our hard work from last year went up in flames.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wrapping up

Our year long coral reef out reach project is coming to a close soon. All that remains on my contract is to conduct a socioeconomic survey, conduct two public meetings, and to write my final report.

We have had a very successful year.

Our partners with MOVER (now Friends of the Mariana Islands) won an USDA Earth Team Group Award. This was a national award and they were selected over all other nominated groups in the entire United States.

Beautify CNMI! also won an EPA Award. While this award is shared with all of our partners, RC&D played a large role in the success of Beautify CNMI! RC&D chaired the Restoration Committee, which was responsible for coordinating all of the tree plantings, cleanups, restorations, and the tree care workshop.

EPA Award Presentation

Yesterday morning John McCarroll and Pat Young from EPA Region 9 presented Beautify CNMI! with the 2007 Environmental Award for Outstanding Achievement in front of the Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of Public Works, Director of Fish & Wildlife, and the Director of the Division of Environmental Quality.

The award belongs to the thousands of people who have made Beautify CNMI! a success last year. Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council played a large role in coordinating the Restoration Committee of Beautify CNMI! Both Ken Kramer and I have been taking turns being the chair of that committee over the course of the year. Thanks to everyone who helped us out with the Restoration Committtee!

After the presentation of the EPA Award, USDA NRCS District Conservationist Scott Crockett and Marianas RC&D Coordinator Ken Kramer presented Rep. Cinta Kaipat, Governor Ben Fitial, and Lt. Governor Tim Villagomez with NRCS hats. They thanked Rep. Kaipat for her support and offered his agency's support to the local CNMI government.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pets in the News

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

CNMI celebrates its first Ever Pet Week
By Marconi Calindas

Pets take the spotlight this week, with the proclamation of May 6-12 as CNMI Pet Week. This is the first time this occasion is being celebrated here in the Commonwealth.

The Saipan Mayor's Office gathered yesterday morning some of the islands' animal welfare advocates to witness the proclamation signing. Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela led the proclamation signing, assisted by Pet Assistance and Welfare Services and Beautify CNMI! committee chair Katie Busenkell and Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Ignacio Dela Cruz.

Tudela said the celebration recognizes all pet lovers and their pets, to include not just dogs but also cats, horses, goats, and other animals.

“Do you know that pets also enrich your lives with many health benefits? They provide companionship that helps to overcome stress and worries. They are also important in providing us with opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities,” said Tudela.

Beautify CNMI! Restoration Committee chair and Mariana Islands Nature Alliance director Angelo Villagomez, USDA's Ken Kramer, PAWS president Mike Pai, and three of the five 2007 Liberation Day Queen candidates witnessed the proclamation signing.

Click HERE for the full Saipan Tribune Story

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

13 Flame Trees adopted under new Restoration Program

Flame Tree Adoptions: MINA Board member Chuck Sayon, Nancy Rushmer, Rep. Cinta Kaipat, and Doreen Jesus of Guam pose with some of the Adopt-a-Flame Trees.

Beautify CNMI is gearing up for another round of tree plantings this year with an Adopt-a-Flame Tree program.

Beautify CNMI! is asking members of the community and business owners to “adopt” a Flame Tree by donating $20 per tree to the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance.

The trees will be planted in the location of the adoptees choosing, but Beautify CNMI is urging people to have the trees planted along Beach Road. According to Rep. Cinta Kaipat, “We would like to encourage the planting of the trees along Beach Road because a lot of the old trees are infected and will die soon. We want to plant now before they get taken down and it looks empty.”

Adoptees will be recognized with a certificate, a small marker next to the base of the tree, and with a picture on the Beautify CNMI website. The adoptions are ongoing and planting will begin in late June. Says Beautify CNMI Chairman Angelo Villagomez, “We’re just waiting for the rain.”

Adoptees will be invited to the plantings, but if they can not make it, they will receive a photo along with the GPS coordinates of their adopted tree.

Doreen Jesus and Greg Pangelinan of Guam each adopted a tree for Jesus’s son, US Army Sergeant Jesse Castro, who lost his life serving in Iraq last December. Castro was buried in Guam, but his father, Jesus Castro, is from Saipan.

The adoptees from the Flame Tree Festival are Aya Matsumoto (2), Shirley’s Coffee Shop (3), Nancy Rushmer, Ian Catlett, Calvo & Clark LLC, Don Bader, Nathan Tan, Doreen Jesus, Greg Pangelinan, and Bree Reynolds.

In 2006, Beautify CNMI planted 22 Flame Trees along Beach Road and in January 2007 they planted 4 more. To adopt a Flame Tree, contact Angelo Villagomez at 483-1078 or

Monday, May 07, 2007

EPA Award in the News

Monday, May 07, 2007

EPA hands trophy to Beautify CNMI!
By Marconi Calindas

Beautify CNMI! finally received its prestigious award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last Saturday at the Sabalu Market in Susupe.

EPA Region 9 program manager Pat Young handed over the blue glass trophy to Beautify CNMI! after the group was named an environmental hero during the recently concluded EPA Region 9 Environmental Awards ceremony held earlier last month.

Since Beautify CNMI! was not able to send a representative to receive the award in San Francisco, Young personally brought the award to the CNMI. She was also in the region to attend several other engagements.

Beautify CNMI! founder Rep. Cinta Kaipat and officers Angelo Villagomez, Steve Hiney, and USDA Ken Kramer received the award.

Click HERE for the full Saipan Tribune Story

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Earth Team Award in the News

Saipan Tribune, Wednesday, May 2, 2007

USDA hands certificate to FMI members
By Marconi Calindas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service distributed at least 25 individual certificates to members of environment group Friends of the Mariana Islands, led by FMI president Marites Castillo.

Rep. Cinta Kaipat and Mariana Islands Nature Alliance executive director Angelo O'Connor Villagomez led the presentation of the certificates Sunday afternoon during the last day of the 26th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival at the Civic Center in Susupe.

Click HERE for the full story

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Great Turtle Escape

This guy hatched on Monday, April 30, 2006.