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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Salinas residents denounce illegal tree cutting

By The Star Staff

Residents of the La Margarita and Villa Cofresí communities in Salinas on Thursday denounced the indiscriminate cutting of trees, which they say violated Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) laws.

The tree-cutting is to pave the way for the proposed Salmar resort and residential center at the Paseo Ladí farm, whose owner is developing the project through a company called Clasioferta, according to a radio report.

Residents who form the Environmental Dialogue Committee have reportedly said the developer and owner of the farm, Luis Caballero González, is selling the development despite not having the required permits.

According to reports, neighbors have filed complaints against Caballero González, none of which have been successful. However, they said they have seen machinery moving and trees falling on the property over the past few weeks.

A spokesperson for the DNER stated that in previous complaints, officials only found “collection of debris and garbage on site,” but not “cutting of trees or violation of laws and regulations.” But, the spokesperson added, “technical assistance was requested.”

Caballero González denied having done anything illegal and indicated that he is only clearing the property because he wants to build his house on the farm, pointing out that “according to the law, I have the right to clear my farm, to cut trees less than five feet tall and to collect debris.”

Wanda Ríos Colorado, leader of the residents of La Margarita, provided the newspaper with a video, taken on Saturday, Feb. 3, in which a machine is seen apparently felling trees. Meanwhile, Waldemar López de la Cruz, who lives right in front of the farm in Villa Cofresí, signed an affidavit in which he alleges that he saw multiple trees being cut down.

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