NERRds Support Puerto Rico’s Recovery
When disaster hits, NERRds are always willing to pitch in. With funding from NERRA, Reserve staff from around the country have worked alongside other volunteers to log 3,293 hours restoring trails at Puerto Rico’s Jobos Bay Reserve in the wake of Hurricane Maria and a devastating winter storm.
These dedicated helpers repaired and reopened all of the Reserve’s trails and salvaged and reattached more than 15,000 coral fragments to help regrow Puerto Rico’s badly damaged reefs. The restored trails provide access to valuable habitats for research, education, and enjoyment, including lagoons and mangrove groves that shelter endangered yellow-shouldered blackbirds, hawksbill sea turtles, and West Indian manatees.
Trail damage caused by Hurricane Maria and other storms prevented researchers from monitoring and visitors from enjoying and learning at the Jobos Bay Reserve. Volunteers, including Reserve staff from around the country logged more than 3,293 hours to restore the trails.
Access to these trails and reefs is essential to Puerto Rico’s tourism and recreation industries, which account for 87 percent of the territory’s ocean economy. The volunteer efforts were part of a larger endeavor by NOAA to restore and aid in Jobos Bay’s recovery, and their work saved an estimated $74,554 in labor costs. NOAA also provided fine-scaled flood maps and training to aid recovery and protect residents from future hazards and conducted a remote sensing assessment of the Reserve’s seagrasses to identify physical disturbances after Hurricane María.
All of this hard work was on display when Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Deputy NOAA Administrator, visited the Jobos Bay Reserve last month.
“I deeply appreciate the NERR System for all that it provides,” he observed. “I’ve been a coastal resident my entire adult life, and my family and I enjoy natural resources and are passionate about their conservation and protection. The contributions of our NERRS, Puerto Rico Sea Grant, and CARICOOS to conservation and the Blue Economy are tremendous.”
Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet (far right) and the Jobos Bay team.