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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

DNER official recommends halting of tree cutting in Salinas


After detecting several flaws in a permit granted by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to cut trees in a Salinas forest, an agency examining officer recommended this week the stoppage of all work in the area until the case is clarified.

“Several flaws in the process were detected during the hearing,” said Víctor Alvarado Guzmán, coordinator of the Environmental Dialogue Committee, in a written statement. “A serious mistake was that the permit was granted to the arborist and the owner of the land, instead of to the corporation that owns the land, Clasiofertas LLC.”

Alvarado Guzmán further noted that the matter was treated as if it were an individual tree pruning, rather than one related to a larger construction project.

“The felling of trees is to create access roads for measurement and topography, which is part of a larger project to sell 400-meter lots” he said. “Therefore, the request to cut trees should have been handled through the Office of Permits Management [OGpE by its Spanish initials], not the DNER.”

A permit for cutting, pruning, transplanting and planting trees was granted on Feb. 10 for the removal of 79 trees. A dozen communities in the area, along with environmental organizations, challenged the permit on the grounds that it poses a risk to the ecosystem and nearby residences.

Wanda Janet Ríos Colorado, president of the La Margarita Residents Association, insisted that communities will fight to prevent another environmental disaster in Salinas.

“This is a high-risk flood area, where there is a wetland and archaeological sites,” she said. “No construction or removal of trees from the existing forest should be allowed. We hope that the DNER will revoke that poorly granted permit.”

Another hearing is scheduled for Aug. 9.

Salinas Mayor Karilyn Bonilla Colón, meanwhile, noted that the challenge was originally filed by the Municipality of Salinas and defended before the DNER and OGpE.

“Then the Residents Association and Environmental Dialogue joined,” she said. “Government agencies made the determination to take it in a single case.”

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