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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Resident commissioner proposes feasibility study for island’s first national scenic trail


The proposal seeks to authorize a federal study on the feasibility of establishing a national scenic trail that interconnects trails and protected natural areas from the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo to the Morrillos Peninsula in Cabo Rojo, passing through El Yunque National Forest, the Sierra de Cayey, the Cordillera Central and the dry forests of the southwest coast.


By THE STAR STAFF


A new measure authored by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón and filed in the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to promote tourism, conservation and the outdoor recreation economy in Puerto Rico by studying the possibility of creating the first national scenic trail in Puerto Rico, the resident commissioner and organizations that support the bill announced at a press conference Thursday in Fajardo.


House Resolution (HR) 4218, Puerto Rico’s National Scenic Trail Study Act, seeks to authorize a federal study on the feasibility of establishing a national scenic trail that interconnects trails and protected natural areas from the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo to the Morrillos Peninsula in Cabo Rojo, passing through the El Yunque National Forest, the Sierra de Cayey, the Cordillera Central and the dry forests of the southwest coast.


The bill seeks to support and expand to the rest of the island the efforts of the U.S. Forest Service, Para la Naturaleza and numerous other organizations to develop a trail system that interconnects El Yunque National Forest with other protected areas in the Northeast, including the Northeast Ecological Corridor and the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. The approximately 40-mile route -- known as the Veredas del Noreste route -- could be considered the first stretch of what would be the “Puerto Rico National Scenic Trail” that HR 4218 seeks to study and that would cross the island from the northeast to the southwest.


“Puerto Rico has unique and diverse ecosystems, soils, flora and fauna – including the only tropical rainforest that belongs to the national forest system, El Yunque. This measure would study the opportunity to enable a federal trail route interconnecting protected natural areas from the northeast coast to the southwest coast, promoting tourism and outdoor recreation, economic development and conservation,” the resident commissioner said. “I appreciate the crucial support of Para la Naturaleza, Love in Motion, Foundation for Puerto Rico, Fundación Amigos de El Yunque and the many other organizations for this measure that would be the first step to officially designate the first national scenic trail on the island.”


“This bill reflects the importance of establishing strategic partnerships to encompass projects at the regional and island levels, involving state and federal governments, community and nonprofit organizations, and communities,” said Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, president of Para la Naturaleza. “The diversity in these collaborations directs us to maximize the economic, social and ecological benefits that would be obtained from an ecotourism project such as the one proposed by the national scenic trail. At Para la Naturaleza we consider that hiking is extremely important for the health of the people and for contributing to the generation of tourism based on the protection of nature.”


Friends of El Yunque Foundation Executive Director Carmen N. Portela added that the organization she leads has “been supporting the Forest Service for more than 13 years in education initiatives on environmental conservation and responsible recreation.”


“Development of Puerto Rico’s National Scenic Trail will bring our island an opportunity for community tourism and to diversify the tourism offer, promoting responsible tourism, led by adjacent communities,” she said.

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