Volume IV, Issue I Spring, 2010
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
* Forest Supervi- 2
* HELP helps 3
* Forest tract 5
* MTSIITS Traffic 6
* Amigos del 7
* S WLuHem 8
Wyland + Kids = Art with a FOCUS
nationally renowned marine artist Wyland
set in motion the first of many murals depict-
ing forest, ocean and climate change themes
that he and over 400 students, their teachers
and celebrated local artists Edgardo Larregui, Celso
Gonzalez and Roberto Biaggi would paint through-
S out the day. Kids sat on all sides, eagerly awaiting their
chance to share in the work. The setting was the Aguirre Commonwealth Forest
near Guayama on the south side of the island, a mangrove forest overlooking the
Caribbean sea this exciting event marked the first FOCUS (Forest, Ocean, Cli-
mate and US) joint-venture activity in Puerto Rico.
Putting the finishing touches on the background, Wyland invited the kids to check
their water and watershed themed sketches, grab a brush, and paint side-by-side
with him and the island artists on the canvases that would become the 16 dazzling
murals completed that day.
During the March 17, 2010 activity, Wyland and his Wyland
Foundation, in partnership with the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),US Forest Service's
International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), El
Yunque National Forest (EYNF), the Puerto Rico Mu-
seum of Contemporary Art (MAC), the Puerto Rican De-
partment of Natural & Environmental Resources
(DNER), The Puerto Rico Department of Education
(DOE) and the University of Puerto Rico, joined with young
people from middle schools across the island to create the col-
lection of murals celebrating the beauty and vital importance of
water flowing down from the forest to the coastal plain and the sea.
The exhilarating event was part of the Wyland
Foundation's FOCUS (Forests, Ocean, Climate
- and US) program, a new and innovative na-
tionwide campaign that will educate students
on the crucial importance of vigorous manage-
ment of our planet's water sources.
The El Yunque NF began the local FOCUS
project as Conservation Educator Blanca
Ruiz led Visitor Information Service Leader
Victor Cuevas (continued on page 4)
EL BOSQUE PLUVIAL
The Forest Supervisor's Message
With hopes of making our beloved
El Yunque an even better place, we
are passionate about the conserva-
tion of this unique ecosystem, while
we constantly strive to improve our
service to the public.
The previous six months have been
an extremely demanding and event-
ful period for our staff and our coop-
erators. The summertime high-
demand concern has been at the
center of this increased action.
Our wide-ranging solution to this
vital issue has three components:
(1) an Intelligent Transportation
System (ITS); (2) a Mass Transit
System (MTS); and (3) a compre-
hensive Forest Capacity Manage-
We were assisted in the planning
effort for the first two components
by an expert group of transporta-
tion engineers from the Federal
Highway Authority and the Puerto
Rico Department of Transportation
and Public Works. With the invalu-
able support of the Forest Service's
Southern Region engineering and
recreation staff, we were able to
reach agreement on concept.
The ITS system will be imple-
mented through two separate
phases: Phase One, which is
planned to be fully installed by July
2010, is a base system consisting of
traffic flow sensors and flashing
electronic message signs.
Phase Two will expand the basic sys-
tem by adding traffic-monitoring
cameras along the PR 191 corridor
and low-power AM radio service
broadcasting Forest traffic congestion
Concerning MTS, we are about to
sign an accord with our neighboring
municipality of Rio Grande in which
they agree to operate and maintain
the MTS service for the Forest. The
Forest Service worked closely with
Rio Grande's mayor and municipal
assembly to achieve this important
When this is completed, we will begin
the procurement process to acquire a
single TRAM rubber-tired, multi-unit
train to transport visitors, anticipat-
ing that this "demo" MTS system will
be operational by summer 2011.
It is important to note that these new
technology solutions won't work
without human direction and control.
The systems must operate seamlessly
during peak, high-demand Forest
visitation periods. Our Forest Capac-
ity Commission has completed a com-
prehensive study which concludes
that "a full-capacity management
approach" is required to accurately
direct traffic on the Forest's recrea-
tion corridor when capacity is
reached, Forest closure will be imple-
mented and administered. Specific
operating procedures for the various
project elements involved in this
process are presently being defined.
I am pleased to report that owing to
the diligent efforts of our Ecosystem
and Property Management Teams,
our America Reinvestment and Re-
covery Act (ARRA) funded projects
are nearing completion.
The construction of the Rio Sabana
Recreation Area on the Forest's south
side, near the municipality of Na-
guabo is complete. The Rio Sabana
project is a beautiful picnic area
lying along the Sabana River and
the recently re-constructed Rio Sa-
bana Nature Trail. The facilities
will be operated and maintained by
the Naguabo municipality, and are
planned to be open throughout the
week during summer months and
on weekends during the remainder
of the year. A grand opening cere-
mony is planned for end of summer
We continue our efforts to influence
the Puerto Rico Planning Board
(PRPB) to redefine the existing de-
stabilized Forest "buffer zone" to
become an effective and vital pro-
tective land use region surrounding
our Forest. The PRPB has been
receptive to our recommendations
and approach to lands conserva-
We are presently collaborating
with the Rio Grande municipality
to help them define their territorial
land use plan. We appreciate their
insight in sharing their future
plans with us. In order to sustain a
uniform conservation approach on
the east end of the island, we en-
courage all of our neighboring mu-
nicipalities to consult and work
with our professional staff when
defining their territorial plans.
Finally, a reminder June 1st
marks the beginning of the 2010
hurricane season, forecast to be
above average in named tropical
storms warmer than average sea
surface temperatures due to the La
Nifia effect are predicted to en-
hance tropical storm development.
As always, "We must prepare for
the worst, and hope for the 1 .-I'
VOLUME IV, ISSUE I
VOLUME IV, ISSUE I
"HELP" Helps Luquillo Improve Water Conservation!
I T n February, the El Yunque National Forest presented an audio-visual talk; Hydrology
S. i for the Environment, Living and Policy (HELP) to 80 municipal employees from
the nearby municipality of Luquillo.
Since all of the water consumed by the Luquillo community comes from El Yunque, Forest
Service Biologist Felipe Cano's, explanation of the Forest's shifting rainfall trends as
part of the HELP presentation was extremely relevant to his audience.
HELP also outlined the findings of "Disturbance and long-term patterns of rainfall
and throughfall nutrient fluxes in a subtropical forest in Puerto Rico" a scientific
paper written by Tamara Heartsill-Scalley, PhD, a research scientist with the U.S. Forest Service's International In-
stitute of Tropical Forestry in San Juan.
Combining visual aids with scientific data, Cano showed municipal employees precise
examples of water/nutrient cycles and supplied up-to-the-minute information on the
potential influence of global climate change on their surroundings. Data from Dr.
Heartsill-Scalley's scientific paper also helped provide the Luquillo community with
some effective tools they will use to develop better water conservation techniques.
The HELP project was initiated on the island in March 2009, when 20 hydrologists and
natural resources managers met on the El Yunque National Forest to provide the
guidance required to implement future HELP-related community efforts, such as the
presentation to Luquillo's municipal employees.
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Iuii'nin I 'rm i1 '. + 11m1nh 11l.iL; ilnl Land Between tle Lakes National Recreation Area \\.-lI1in.
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;ill\* In \|i'iil Lmintl- & I'i'inilr- l Ian.,"II (arolyn KIrupp illi,-nl, I, ah ;i I,\ Lands Acquisition
Conference inI 'I lIIll n 'I_'I T'In n'--
Notable Notes & Quotable Quotes Around The Forest
The El Yunque National Forest noted with sadness the passing on April 11 of Juan E. Mufioz, who
served as Caribbean National Forest Supervisor from 1975 to 1984. He was the first native Puerto Ri-
can appointed to supervise the island's El Yunque rainforest. During his long tenure as supervisor the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico enacted a new forest law for the island based on his contributions. Juan
E. Mufioz was a trailblazer he will be remembered with warm affection.
SThe El Yunque NF is now on [ you can view our "Tweets" at: http://twitter.coml
> There's still time to vote in the N7WN campaign with your help, El Yunque will be named one of the in-
ternationally acclaimed New 7 Wonders of Nature! Check our website: www.fs.fed.us/r8/el yunque for
> To view projects currently undergoing environmental analysis on the El Yunque NF, check this link:
> Join us for El Yunque NF Clean-up Day/National Trails Day = Saturday, June 5th, 2010; fun and an
environmental education opportunity for the whole family: www.fs.fed.us/r8/el vunque
EL BOSQUE PLUVIAL
Wyland + Kids =Art with a FOCUS (cont.)
and Interpreter/guide Aurea Moragon on visits to
classrooms of participating schools to teach students the importance of
island watershed conservation. IITF's Magaly Figueroa led a similar
effort at 10 other participating schools, assisted by historian Carlos
Dominguez and other IITF educational staff.
Local artists then accompanied the students on field trips to El Yunque
where they learned from Forest biologist Felipe Cano how the Forest's
Watersheds flow from their starting places in the Luquillo mountains
down to the sea, providing a source of clean water to local communities
along the way.
Back in the classroom, the artists helped the students design themes and compose sketches that would later be
used to create and paint the conservation themed murals.
While they were painting the murals, artists, students and teachers were entertained by the music of the
"Bombero Rapero" (Rapping Firefighter), Angel Crespo, who had the crowd rapping and dancing along with
Forest Service icon, Smokey Bear.
The multiple FOCUS activities culminating in the mural painting event at the Aguirre Forest required an enor-
mous amount of coordination between the partnering agencies and organizations. Cindy McArthur of the US
Forest Service's Washington Headquarters, who assisted in formulating the original FOCUS project, was on
hand to ensure everything went according to plan; El Yunque National Forest's Blanca Ruiz along with Land
Acquisition and Permits manager, Carolyn Krupp synchronized with IITF's Magaly Figueroa and MAC's Pro-
grams and Education Officials, Evita Busa, Marisa Ramos and director Marianne Ramirez to seamlessly
organize every detail and make this unique event a tremendous success!
Artist Wyland observed: "If you want to protect the planet now work with
adults if you want to protect the planet in the future work with kids," he
went on to explain "Children are artists instinctively they are very natu-
ral, optimistic and more than any other group, they want to protect the
environment I am energized by them." Wyland believes that children un-
derstand the importance of taking action more than adults, "Kids want to
make a difference I believe they will rise to the challenge."
El Yunque National Forest Supervisor Pablo Cruz furthered Wyland's ob-
servations, by stating: "How exciting to be able to participate in a project
that blends so well the key concepts of water and lands conservation, com-
munity involvement, and emphasizes the importance of youth in helping
convey these important messages through the arts. Our intention is to help
children to be sensitive to nature, through the fine arts. The combination of
the arts and nature should have a positive impact on the future of our Is-
Selections from the students' exhilarating collection of murals will be on dis-
play during the months of April through September at the International
Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), American Airlines Concourse-Luis Mu-
foz Marin International Airport, University of Puerto Rico, Museum of Con-
temporary Art (MAC) in San Juan, and El Portal Rain Forest Center at the
El Yunque National Forest.
EL BOSQUE PLUVIAL
VOLUME IV, ISSUE I
EL BOSQUE PLUVIAL
Illegal Operation of Off-Road Vehicles Prohibited on EIYunque
National Forest Tract
Early in 2009, Ecosystem Team
Forest Biology Technician Super-
visor Orlando Carrasquillo and
Biological Technicians Anastacio
Gomez and Benjamin Fuentes
visited the Forest's La Condesa
Tract to investigate and docu-
ment the impact on Forest lands
caused by the illegal operation of
Off-Road Vehicles (ORV's).
La Condesa is a 524 acre tract
that forms a part of the El Yun-
que National Forest, separate
from the main Forest, surrounded
by private lands, making this area
somewhat difficult to manage.
Carrasquillo and his crew deter-
mined that La Condesa's vegetation
had been seriously impacted ero-
sion, denuded vegetation and deep,
wide gullies, were all seen to be
caused by illegally operated ORVs.
Since then, the Forest Service has
measured the extent of ORV impact,
and implemented a program to de-
ter the illegal operation of ORVs in
the La Condesa tract and restore
this area to its former pristine
The re-vegetation process has be-
gun; gabions (cylinders filled with
stones) are being installed at ac-
cess points to prohibit ORV entry;
warning signs have been posted to
discourage ORV operation and
gates are being installed at strate-
gic entrance points.
Forest Supervisor Pablo Cruz
declared: The La Condesa tract
is an important segment of the El
Yunque National Forest it must
be protected and conserved."
ARRA + FS + CCP = Espiritu Santo Watershed Restoration
Rio Espiritu Santo Watershed, EYNF
D -1 . .
-t.. ,-.y > -
The Rio Espiritu Santo is one of the El Yunque National Forest's
critical watersheds. Streams flowing through El Yunque's water-
sheds provide 25% of the water consumed by Puerto Rico's San
Juan metropolitan area as well as much of the water used by the
population of the island's eastern end maintaining healthy water-
sheds is vitally important to the island's residents and its visitors.
The El Yunque National Forest, in partnership with Centro
I Para la Conservacion del Paisaje (CCP) has received funding
approval through the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act (ARRA) to accomplish a number of vital improvements to the
Rio Espiritu Santo Watershed. Improvements include:
Expansion of the existing breeding habitat of the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vit-
tata) through reforestation.
Clean-up of debris along stream banks and above several river dams to restore appropriate
stream flow, and to enhance the health of fish and other aquatic species in the watershed area.
Contracting with a local plant nursery to provide native tree and plant materials for use in refor-
The Forest Service will provide overall supervision of the project. The total cost of the Rio Espiritu Santo
Watershed project is pegged at $209,000 ARRA will fund $124,095 to CCP (Reforestation), $43 790 to
Fideicomiso de Conservacion (Plant procurement) and $41,115 to a local contractor (Debris clean-up). Im-
plementation of work on the three sub-projects has already begun the Rio Espiritu Santo Watershed pro-
ject is planned to be completed by August 2011.
VOLUME IV, ISSUE I
EL BOSQUE PLUVIAL
MTS/ITS Systems To Tame El Yunque's Traffic Congestion
A s a preferred destination for travelers from around the world, El Yunque welcomes over 1.2 million visitors
every year. Although the Forest's popular La Mina Falls venue often attracts over 2,000 visitors on peak usage
days, there are far less legal vehicle parking slots available throughout the Forest!
Worse yet, other than at the El Portal Rain Forest Center, there are
only 262 spaces available for visitor parking on the PR road 191 Rec-
reational Corridor! Capacity of these spaces is exceeded 141 days
(38%) of the year and it is drastically exceeded (more than 800 ve-
hicles per day) 38 days (10%) of each year, causing repeated illegal
parking incidents that may lead to vehicle accidents, and potential
To solve this problem the El Yunque NF in collaboration with the
Federal Highway Authority and the Puerto Rico Department
of Transportation and Public Works began studying possible
alternate transportation methods for the PR 191 Recreation Corri-
dor studies were conducted in 1994, 2002 and again in 2007. All
studies recommended implementation of a Mass Transit System
(MTS) using "Trams" to address the problem.
A "demo" Mass Transit System, consisting of a single Tram, rubber-tired, multi- section "train-on-wheels" with a
seating capacity for 74 passengers is planned to begin operating from the El Portal Rain Forest Center parking
area on weekends and during peak visitation periods by summer 2011. The Tram will be funded by the Forest
Service, but operated and maintained under an agreement with the municipality of Rio Grande.
Parallel with the "demo" system's implementation, further analyses intended to validate engineering assump-
tions, collect operating cost data and monitor public acceptance of the system will be conducted.
At the same time, a two-phase Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) will also be put into operation; Phase
One, a base system, presently planned to be operational by the end of summer 2010, will consist of traffic sensors
along PR road 191 linked electronically to three portable flashing signs -- two placed on PR highway 3, east and
west of the Forest access road turn-off and one on PR road 191 the signs will provide motorists with current
recreational corridor traffic congestion information.
Phase Two, will expand the basic ITS system by adding traffic-monitoring cameras along the PR 191 corridor and
a low-power AM radio signal that will continually broadcast Forest traffic congestion updates to visitors vehicles
for rapid decision making.
Although the combined MTS/ITS systems are a giant step now that they have passed through the initial plan-
ning stages, they are still in their "infancy" the ultimate "shape and form" of these systems will depend heavily
on visitor acceptance stay tuned to El Bosque Pluvial and our El Yunque website www.fs.fed.us/r8/
el vunque for up-to-date information!
VOLUME IV, ISSUE I
EL BOSQUE PLUVIAL
Amigos delYunque: Good Friends -Vital Partners!
Amigos del Yunque is the El Yunque National For-
est's new partner! Literally translated as "Friends of
El Yunque", this new organization was recently estab-
..., .. lished to team up with El Yunque's staff to lend a profes-
......... sional helping hand in accomplishing the Forest's vital
stewardship mission maintain and protect the invalu-
able resources of the "Only tropical rainforest in the U.S.
Amigos del Yunque was incorporated in the Common-
wealth of Puerto Rico as a "not-for-profit" entity by a
group of like-minded, prominent community leaders in an
effort to bring the public's resources and attention to bear
upon the task of managing and protecting this unique oasis of nature.
Angelita Riekehoff, an attorney with a long record of involvement with community improvement ef-
forts, including the worker-owned cooperative that developed the new Punto Verde Eco-themed
park in San Juan, has led the effort to organize Amigos del Yunque and serves as the president of its
board of directors. Also on the organization's board are former Commonwealth of Puerto Rico insur-
ance commissioner Ralph Rexach; long-term resident and community leader Martin Matta and Uni-
versity of Puerto Rico professor, Elvia Melendez Ackerman, PhD., who has accomplished extensive
research on Puerto Rico's climate and ecology. Highly experienced planner and manager Juan Va-
quer Castrodad will devote his efforts to the start-up and development of this vital new community
organization as its executive director.
The recent nomination of El Yunque as one of 28 international finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Na-
ture (N7WN) competition served to intensify the group's interest in promptly implementing this im-
portant community effort.
Executive director Vaquer sees Amigos del Yunque's mission as "An organization that successfully pro-
motes both commitment to, and a broad awareness of, the pressing need to protect and preserve El
Yunque by partnering creatively with the U.S. Forest Service; encouraging effective public participa-
tion through innovative communications planning and a pro-active financial and economic engagement
with the Forest's neighboring communities."
Amigos del Yunque's immediate goals are fundamental: "Bring new hands to help in the tasks of For-
est management; help to improve the overall visitor experience and identify short-term development
projects that can be accomplished by residents of the Forest's adjoining Gateway Community of
The organization's short-term objectives include such projects as promoting ideas for new categories of
guided tours; helping El Yunque's Customer Service staff to improve signage and other types of infor-
mation on Forest trails and developing and helping to innovate new activities for visitors, particularly
children and hotel guests at the Forest's El Yunque Rain Forest Center.
Vaquer stressed that Amigos del Yunque urgently needs volunteer "Amigos" who will become an essen-
tial part of these exciting projects an equally crucial need is for necessary financial contributions that
will fund our operations adequately, so that we can serve the Forest as an effective partner
To find out more about becoming an "Amigo" or to make a financial contribution to this vital new non-
profit conservation organization go to: firstname.lastname@example.org
VOLUME IV, ISSUE I
EL BOSQUE PLUVIAL FOReT TPOTUCUT
Pablo Cruz Forest Supervisor
El Yunque National Forest
Telephone -787 888 1810
Fax 787 888 5668
e-mail pcruz01 @fs.fed.us
Alan Mowbray Editor
El Bosque Pluvial
Telephone 787 888 5654
Fax 787 888 5622
Graphics Aurea Moragon
Photos: USDA Forest Service; Wyland Foundation.
El Yunque National Forest
Telephone -787 888 1810/1880
Fax 787 888 5685
Web www.fs.fed.us/r8/el yunque
Mail USDA Forest Service
El Yunque National Forest
HC-01 Box 13490
Rio Grande, PR 00745-9625
In this issue, s I Bosque fluvial shines the
5POTLIGHT on Customer Service's
multi- talented Visitor Information Ser-
vices leader, Victor M. Cuevas. Victor
was born in 5anturce and raised in Rio
o fFiedras, where he attended primary and
secondary schools- graduating from Aca-
demia Nuestra Senora de la Frovidencia,
he went on to achieve a Bachelor of science degree in biology at the Ulniver-
sit-9 of uerto Rico Joining the UISDA Forest service in I 1s+ as a bio-
logical technician, he worLed with the Puerto Rico Parrot Recovery program.
Later on, as a biologist, he developed vital protocols For sampling El Yunque's
coqui tree Frog populations and parrot-lookout tree-climbing safety9 later still,
he organized and led teams to roam the Forest's wilderness in search of rare,
threatened and endangered flora and fauna species. )By his own reckoning,
Victor "Lived For eight years in the EI Yunque Forest), where he developed an
overwhelming appreciation of the Worest's diverse biological environment.
Victor changed careers a Few years ago convinced that he should pass his
extensive Lnowledge on to others, he accepted the position of EI Yunque Nr
Visitor Information Service Leader- in this role he is responsible for training
V15 interpreter/guides who give interpretive talks to our many visitors a Na-
tional Association for interpretation Certified Interpretive Trainer, he has
trained and certified E I Yunque's Interpreter staff as well as many colleagues
from the S5 Park service, the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust and commer-
cial outfitter/guide companies.
Victor was active in the local Ebos 5cout program for 1 z years, attaining the
exalted status of _agle 5cout and member of the elite Order of the Arrow,
achieving the Vigil Honor rank before educational and professional demands
When he is not conducting training, or lecturing Vi visitors about the unique
wonders of EjI unique, Victor likes to wander the Forest's wilderness and re-
mote rivers "by i, I!- to meditate" he plays the guitar, and other stringed
instruments, and will occasionally "sing to accompany my playing, when I Feel
good vibes from the audience." An animal lover, he raises German Shepherd
puppies and keeps aquariums and a pond stocked with colorful Koi fishes.
rn his "spare" time, Victor composes poetry he is working on a book of poems,
but says its conclusion is "way off in the future" he is an "on again/off again
vegetarian", eating chicken and fish, but no red meat he "dabbles" in Karate,
Kung fu and Tae Kwon Do.
Victor would like to have "lived his life knowing he tried his best to make the
world a better place" and "helped improve the quality of life on our planet" a
laudable vow indeed!
All in all, a very interesting and versatile II1 ourVictor no wonder he is so
popular with EYNF staff and visitors alike!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimina-
tion in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color,
national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs,
sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohib-
ited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who
require alternate means for communication of program informa-
tion (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's
TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (Voice and TDD.) To file a com-
plaint of discrimination write USDA, Director, Office of Civil
Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Ave-
nue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 (Voice
and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity employer and provider.