• The San Juan Daily Star

FEMA allocates $1.2 million for Caja de Muertos Island Reserve

Caja de Muertos Island received about 20,000 visitors a year before Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017.

By John McPhaul

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allocated $1.2 million for repairs at the facilities of the Caja de Muertos Island nature reserve, located south of Ponce.

Caja de Muertos Island received about 20,000 visitors a year before Hurricane Maria in 2017. However, after the catastrophe the reserve closed to the public, who could only go to the beaches. Among the attractions of this protected natural area are the Pelícano beach and various educational offerings, such as talks or nesting vigils for sea turtles.

“This million-dollar approval will serve to repair the area where visitors are served, which will facilitate arrivals on the island and the day pass,” said José G. Baquero, the federal disaster coordinator in Puerto Rico. “We continue to be committed to a holistic recovery where entertainment venues for island families are revitalized.”

The barracks that house the guards and the personnel of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), who remain there for one week shifts to monitor the care of the reserve, will also be renovated. In addition, part of the funds are dedicated for the replacement of a photovoltaic system that will allow the energization of the facilities.

Other work to be carried out includes the replacement of a wooden fence, the reconstruction of the pavilions (gazebos) and eco-friendly bathrooms, as well as the reconstruction of a platform that will facilitate access to the beach.

“The current facilities were built in the 90s, with an architecture and design in which resilience and sustainability were not considered,” said María Chardón, the manager of the DNER reserve. “The obligation gives us the opportunity to build facilities where our drinking water limitations, exposure to weather conditions, earthquakes and carrying capacity are taken into consideration.”

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