Federal budget cuts are seriously affecting environmental watchdog Micronesia Island Nature Alliance and the continued survival of many of its programs.
According to MINA executive director Roberta Guerrero, the group is currently faced with a 30-percent cut in its annual budget and its Tasi Ranger Watch Program faces the most damage if nothing is done about the lack of funding.
The Tasi Ranger Watch Program ensures safer oceans for locals and tourists. Its rangers are constantly on the lookout for possible threats to the Saipan lagoon such as illegal dumping and possible cases of erosion that could pollute the lagoon.
Another responsibility given to these rangers is reforestation in order to minimize chances of erosion.
In the wake of Typhoon Soudelor, many trees were completely uprooted. To combat that, MINA rangers were authorized to plant new seedlings in their place. But, again, because of the budget cut implemented by the federal government, MINA is having issues with that project. Guerrero told Saipan Tribune that without enough funds, there won’t be enough manpower to carry out the reforestation.
According to Guerrero, MINA lacks about $55,000 to continue with many projects. MINA gets a portion of its funding from the federal Coral Reef Initiative Program of the Office of Insular Affairs.
MINA is now leaning on fundraisers and grant agencies to replace the funds that were lost after the budget cuts. One of its upcoming fundraisers will be the Green Gala on Sept. 15, 2017, at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan at 6pm. Tickets are currently being sold at $75 apiece.
The gala will showcase locally grown produce, from vegetables to fish, and even pork.
Despite its funding setbacks, Guerrero said that MINA is resilient and will continue to make do with what they have and will continue to make a way to replace what they don’t have.
Guerrero pointed out that MINA has lasted 12 years and she is confident that they will get by and will continue to carry out their work for more years to come.