$1.7 million for PR rural areas included in bipartisan infrastructure bill
By John McPhaul
A bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Congress will allocate new funds for clearing operations to improve flow of the Culebrinas River in northwest Puerto Rico and for improvements to roads and schools in rural areas, with both items adding up to $1,690,294, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón announced Sunday.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Public Law 117-58), includes $200 million to restore the movement of fish and other wildlife through the removal of antiquated, unsafe or obsolete stream barriers such as levees or culverts, and the provision of assistance techniques under the National Fish Passage Program.
The funds are distributed over five years and for this year, $38 million will be allocated nationwide to 40 projects in 23 states and Puerto Rico.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the entire project will open up 302 miles of river habitat nationwide for fish and aquatic wildlife species.
In Puerto Rico, the Culebrinas project in Aguada and Aguadilla will also help significantly improve water quality in the nearby estuary, which will directly benefit manatees and marine turtles.
The National Fish Passage Wilderness Program supports projects to restore aquatic ecosystems so that waters flow freely, allowing better migration of fish and protecting communities from flooding.
Another of the programs financed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the Safe Rural Schools program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Service. The program supports public schools, roads and other services in municipalities that are within federal lands.
The Forest Service will allocate $190,294 to Puerto Rico to be distributed among municipalities that have land in El Yunque National Forest (Canóvanas, Ceiba, Fajardo, Juncos, Las Piedras, Luquillo, Naguabo, and Río Grande), in the International Institute of Tropical Forestry’s Guayama Research Area (Cayey, Guayama and Salinas) and in the Manatí Research Area (Manatí and Florida).