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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

House approves bill to create La Ceiba Natural Park in Vieques

Vieques Mayor Jose Corcino Acevedo and Sen. Marissa Jimenez Santoni met last October as part of the planning to create La Ceiba Natural Park in the offshore island municipality.

By The Star Staff

The island House of Representatives unanimously ap-proved (48-0) House Bill 1366, authored by Carolina DistrictSen. Marissa "Marissita" Jimenez Santoni, which seeks to create the new La Ceiba Natural Park in Vieques.

The legislation now goes to La Fortaleza for the gov-ernor's signature.

"This is a tremendous step for the people ofVieques. There is no doubt that La Ceiba Community Project and La Ceiba Park in Vieques have become one of the most visited tourist attractions on 'Isla Nena,"' Jimenez Santoni said. "With the approval of this measure we protect the environment, and promote the growth of marine species, while promoting tourism framed in an ecosystem of support and conservation."

La Ceiba Park offers open spaces dedicated to the enjoyment of residents, visitors, tourists and the general public, creating a functional natural oasis. The park also has several beaches, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, wetlands and mangroves, habitat and feeding places for various species, some in danger of extinction.

The area has been recognized as a natural resource of importance by federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which includes it in its conservation map of high natural value.

"The Mayor of Vieques, Jose 'Junita' Corcino, with whom we are consulting all the details of this reserve, sup-ports the initiative, which will be of great benefit to fishing activity in the municipality, since many marine species have suffered dramatic declines in their numbers due to unregu-lated fishing decades ago," the senator added. "The Vieques fishermen are in favor of the initiative and with them we will continue the dialogue, so that the areas for these species are recovered, and we can resume fishing."

There are also archaeological sites in the park, including the Punta Caballo Archaeological Site, and ruins of the train tracks. The park's main attraction is the centennial Ceiba tree (Ceiba pentandra), which is estimated to be between 375 and 400 years old.

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