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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA funds ecotourism effort in Ciales

The Juan A. Corretjer Walkway in Ciales

By The Star Staff

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is supporting the municipality of Ciales in developing opportunities that promote ecotourism, highlight natural and historic resources, and connect outdoor recreational spaces. The agency has facilitated the assistance of several federal entities, such as the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service, in the process of the central mountain town’s recovery.

FEMA’s Interagency Recovery Coordination has served as a liaison between the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service (NPS-RTCA), Ciales and other entities to manage a project consisting of a system of green areas and trails that will connect rural and urban zones.

After gathering input from community members, nonprofit organizations, government entities and universities, the NPS-RTCA is currently assisting the city in developing a plan and design for the trail system.

“Through this initiative, we reaffirm the agency’s commitment to promoting the resilience of urban spaces,” Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José Baquero said. “The assistance allowed us to identify strategies to mitigate and maximize the use of natural areas, while expanding the recreational offerings available to residents and visitors.”

Some of the places that the municipality of Ciales wants to connect through the trails system include the karstic area, parts of the Grande de Manatí River basin, and historic places such as the urban center, the Mata de Plátano Bridge and the Juan A. Corretjer Walkway. The town received over $53,000 from FEMA to replace concrete, posts, lighting and signs for bikers and pedestrians.

Arlene Pagán Rivera, a merchant whose business is located on the walkway, noted that reconstruction initiatives centered in nature and sports “are important because Ciales has a lot to show: It has caves, bodies of water, it has history, it has indigenous sites and it highlights everything that the town has, from coffee, places to visit, interesting places, many things.”

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