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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA assigns $462,000 to repair Jobos Bay structures

Jobos Bay in Salinas

By The Star Staff

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Sunday the allocation of more than $462,000 to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to repair several structures in Jobos Bay in Salinas, the only national estuarine research reserve in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

“Apart from being an eco-tourism destination, Jobos Bay contributes to the management and conservation of the network of estuarine reserves throughout the nation,” FEMA Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José Baquero said in a written statement. “This allocation of funds helps the reserve improve its facilities and acquire the necessary equipment to continue its scientific and educational mission.”

The reserve’s Visitor Center is located in what was once the Club House of the Aguirre sugar mill and currently serves as a laboratory where field samples obtained in the bay are analyzed. Meanwhile, the cultural activities center was built in the old Aguirre train station.

FEMA’s assignment includes repairing the walls and ceilings of both buildings, as well as observation towers, wooden gazebos and a boardwalk. Wi-Fi antennas, which are of vital importance for obtaining and disseminating research data, will also be repaired.

Meanwhile, the agency also allocated more than $509,000 to repair the Cambalache Species Refuge, a detention center located in Arecibo that houses exotic animals illegally brought to Puerto Rico. Today, the refuge is home to different types of mammals, reptiles – including alligators, crocodiles and snakes – and several species of birds.

Scheduled repairs to the Species Refuge include work at the central office, repair of electrical infrastructure, and replacement of fixtures and the water cistern. Several species cages will also be repaired and replaced, including the reptile terrarium and the bird and mammal cages.

The two DNER projects have hazard mitigation funds: over $127,000 for the Jobos Bay Estuarine Research Center and about $47,000 for the Cambalache Species Refuge, to address leakage problems in roofs, doors and windows, and add additional protection to electrical systems.

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