EPA grants $200K to Puerto Rico to expand understanding of wetlands
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has awarded a grant for more than $200,000 to the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER, in Spanish) and $65,000 to the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to update the United States Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetland Inventory maps for the areas.
“Wetlands in Puerto Rico are critical to supporting healthy aquatic ecosystems as well as providing flood and erosion control, stabilizing shorelines, and supplying food and habitat for fish and wildlife,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa García.
With the grant, the DNER will generate updated NWI’s spatial data for Puerto Rico and the USVI’s government for theirs, as current wetland inventories are decades out of date, the regulatory agency said.
As part of the update, they will use remote imagery to delineate the boundaries of wetlands and classify what type of wetland they are, of which they could be tidal, forested, and scrub-shrub wetlands, as well as other types of wetlands.
The remote imaging will then be confirmed with field visits that will help improve knowledge of wetland distribution for regulators and the public which will, in turn, improve the ability to monitor and assess wetlands in the areas.
EPA’s Wetland Program Development Grants provide an opportunity to promote and accelerate research and improve the ability to investigate wetlands, which also improves the capacity to train wetlands staff and conduct surveys and studies related to water pollution and its impacts on wetlands.