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FEMA awards $1.2M for preservation repairs in Cabo Rojo

The agancny has allocated more than $614 million for nearly 1,500 permanent work projects in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it has allocated more than $1.2 million for the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to perform repairs to the Iris Alameda Wildlife Refuge and Combate Beach facilities in Cabo Rojo following damage from Hurricane Fiona.

Located in the Boquerón neighborhood, the Iris Alameda Wildlife Refuge protects, preserves, and manages coastal and marine resources, in addition to offering recreational spaces for activities such as biking, hiking, fishing and hunting.

“Both projects represent a significant investment in the recovery and protection of natural and recreational resources in Puerto Rico. A resilient reconstruction for Puerto Rico also involves preserving the environment for the well-being of the local community,” said federal disaster recovery coordinator José G. Baquero.

The allocation for the refuge will allow for work such as the replacement of slabs, fences, roofs and fishing ramps. The funds include more than $533,000 for mitigation measures that include the creation of infiltration trenches, as well as the installation of non-woven pavement structures and geotextile fabric to prevent erosion and improve resistance to the natural elements.

The refuge’s biologist and management officer, Jenny E. Vázquez-Morales, explained that the facilities support the conservation of endangered or threatened Puerto Rican flora and fauna, such as the Puerto Rican boa, the ladybug, the guabairo and the cóbana negra tree. The genus name of the cóbana negra tree, Stahlia monosperma, honors the physician and scientist Agustín Stahl, considered the first Puerto Rican naturalist.

Meanwhile, DNER Secretary Anaís Rodríguez-Vega said, “These funds will allow us not only to repair damaged infrastructure, but also to strengthen our conservation efforts, ensuring that this refuge continues to be a vital sanctuary for endangered species and a valuable resource for the community. Our commitment to protecting the environment and biodiversity is unwavering, and the obligation of these funds brings us closer to the recovery and preservation of these valuable ecosystems.”

Furthermore, the DNER Combate Beach facilities also have nearly $49,000 for their reconstruction. Fences, roofs and slabs will be replaced, and exterior lighting systems will be installed.

More than $23,000 from these funds are earmarked to implement mitigation measures, such as installing gabions to prevent erosion and flooding of the area.

“Works for the refuge have been expedited through a Working Capital Advance allocation of $135,933.59, a program that advances FEMA funds for reconstruction works. In addition to these projects, we must highlight that, in the municipality of Cabo Rojo, during the last quarter, about 32 projects are being developed or in the acquisition stage through a federal allocation that amounts to $6 million,” said Manuel Laboy, the executive director of Puerto Rico’s Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3).

FEMA has allocated more than $614 million for nearly 1,500 permanent work projects in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona.

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