El Yunque National Forest, 5 nonprofits sign MOU for promotional projects
El Yunque National Forest and a coalition of five nonprofit organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on several projects that facilitate community empowerment, shared stewardship, conservation, and co-management of natural resources, as well as promotion of tourism and economic activity in the northeast region.
El Yunque National Forest Supervisor, Keenan Adams, explained that Vitrina Solidaria, Love in Motion, Para la Naturaleza, Fundación Amigos del Yunque and Corazón Latino recently formed as a coalition to work in the zones designated as the Community Resource Management Area (CIRMA).
CIRMA emerged as a concept during the planning process and public consultation for the revised Land Management Plan.
“CIRMA represents a new business model for the federal government’s collaboration with local nonprofits and communities. Over the past nine years we have actively engaged our communities and they made clear to us their desire to benefit from El Yunque and improve their well-being,” he said.
“The Forest Service knew that we were not fully equipped, that we needed partners who could be more effective and efficient to achieve results without the bureaucracy. Together, we created a collaboration that leverages each other’s strengths,” Adams said.
“The people, El Yunque National Forest, and the organizations are now co-creating solutions that give the communities voice, protect natural resources, and allow non-profits opportunities to achieve their missions. This MOU is our commitment to the social, ecological, and economic systems of the El Yunque region,” said Adams.
CIRMA members are in the first phase of work, which consists of evaluating assets — identification, gaps, and areas for improvement in the nine municipalities that borders El Yunque: Canóvanas, Río Grande, Luquillo, Fajardo, Ceiba, Naguabo, Humacao, Las Piedras y Juncos — and planning for project development.
Initially, three economic development projects were identified within a variety of recreation opportunities in the Río Sabana area in Naguabo, Pico del Toro in Canóvanas, and the former Roosevelt Roads naval base in Ceiba.
The purpose of the MOU is to document the cooperation among the participating organizations to encourage communication, information, and resource sharing, and to provide a working framework for the development of CIRMA related projects, organizers said.
Through the MOU, the organizations are committed to working together as a multiparty organization to plan, design, and promote the Northwest region of Puerto Rico, to discuss and identify collaborative opportunities or mutually beneficial projects or activities, when appropriate.
Also, they will provide personnel, will collectively identify the specific functions and responsibilities of each partner, and the support and commitment from each to the project.
The coalition tasks include trimestral meetings to coordinate phase finalizations and conduct a follow up on the progress of the agreement’s initiatives, also, providing information about the necessities, interests, expectations, concerns, recommendations, and revisions of the local trails network, if necessary. The meetings should include community workshops or any other method of participation.
The representatives said this effort is open to other entities that share a similar vision and may wish to collaborate.