The right of Commonwealth residents to live in a clean and healthy environment is actually embodied in the CNMI Constitution. Article 1 declares that: “Each person has the right to a clean and healthy public environment in all areas, including the land, air, and water.”
That point was made last Tuesday when Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog signed a proclamation designating April as Environmental Awareness Month.
Torres and Hocog signed the proclamation in the presence of staff members of the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality.
April 22 has also been designated as CNMI Earth Day.
This year’s theme is “Eco Friendly from the Mountains to the Sea.” In line with this, BECQ will be offering events that are perfect for families to enjoy together: lab tours, snorkel day, tree giveaway, environmental expo, and an islandwide cleanup. BECQ will also have contests such as recycling competitions/phone book roundups, a boat building contest using recyclables, and a photography contest. Commonwealth residents are urged to take part in these activities, with the goal of keeping the environment healthy, clean, and beautiful.
The lab tour will give students insight on how it is to work in a laboratory and gain knowledge on the importance of testing water quality, on top of determining whether beaches are safe to swim in.
Snorkel Day is intended for families to see the ocean environment up close and get a workout for the day. They may bring their snorkel or use one of BECQ’s.
BECQ will also host a tree giveaway. BECQ, in partnership with CNMI Forestry and NMC-CREES, will be giving out free native trees and plants. This will promote the reduction of harmful erosion impacts. This event will be held at the Flame Tree Arts Festival grounds, from 9am to 12pm.
One of the BECQ’s main events for the month is the Environmental Expo, a two-day event. BECQ invites fourth grade students, educators, and the public to attend.
The Islandwide Cleanup will take place on April 28, 2016, from 2:30pm to 4:30pm.
BECQ, in partnership with IT&E, the Public School System, and private schools will have a program that is dedicated to collecting old phone books from Yellow Pages Inc. to promote the reduction of waste.
In the “Build-A-Boat” and race contests, school entries and individual entries are welcome. Participants will build and design unique boats out of recycled materials, then race them to the finish line in the waters off Kilili Beach.
The winner of the “Build-A-Boat” contest may win $400 if they win the overall award for Best Recycled Boat design, or $100 if they get the People’s Choice award.
For the race, participants may win first place, “Sea Star” with a prize of $200, second place, “Sea Urchin” with a prize of $60, or third place, “Sea Cucumber,” with a prize of $40. Participants who don’t place in the top three will still receive consolation prizes.
The competition will be held on Saturday, April 8, and will start at 10:30am. Participants must show up at 9:30am for the boat design contest, followed by the race. For more information, contact Ryan Okano at 664-8500 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BECQ will also host a photography contest called “Know Your Tides”; it will be open to the public. Participants must go out and take a picture of their favorite shore at high tide, low tide, or any tide in between. Entries must be sent through Facebook, or Instagram with the location and the tide category: high, low, rising or falling. Participants can use the tag #KnowYourTides to tag BECQ. This contest includes high school, and the general public. Winners will be determined based on first, most likes, second, most artistic, third, highest high tide, and fourth, lowest low tide. (Kimberly A. Bautista)