The Garapan Conservation Action Plan workshop wrapped up Thursday afternoon at Hafadai Beach Hotel after four days of discussion and collaboration between natural resource groups which are aiming to tackle many of the environmental problems facing the Garapan watershed.
Stakeholders attending included over 70 individuals representing over 20 groups, including local and federal government agencies, private businesses and contractors, non-profits, and NMC faculty and students. Over the next several years, participants will be working with community groups, businesses, and others to make Garapan a more healthy, thriving, and resilient place for both the community and the environment.
The “watershed” is defined as all the land area where rainfall drains to common points in the lagoon. It includes everything from Takpochau Road west out into the lagoon, from Smiling Cove to the north down to the Garapan Fishing Base and beyond in the south.
The stakeholders who participated in the workshop were specifically focused on the land-based sources of pollution and human impacts on the marine environment. Participants identified bacteria from human and animal waste, nutrients from upland farming, chemicals that get poured into storm drains, and sediments from unpaved roads or improper land clearing as some of the most important pollutants coming from land.
Marine threats included recreational activities that damage the reef such as anchoring or removal of sea grass habitats, directed hunting of turtles and the effects of fishing on the Garapan reefs. The group also voiced concerns about trash, invasive species, and climate change effects, which will have impacts on both marine and land habitats.
By the end of the workshop, all participants had an understanding of the scope of the Garapan watershed and the many focal habitats and species that were important to conserve, as well as the threats to their survival. Stakeholders also spent a lot of time figuring out solutions to improve the area, such as forming an interagency work group to improve unpaved roads, implementing new monitoring and management plans for marine resources, evaluating and enhancing enforcement capacity, and maintaining and improving stormwater drainage systems.
All stakeholders agreed that the opportunity to network and collaborate on projects was one of the most valuable outcomes of the workshop. The relevant groups will begin working on projects and making improvements immediately. They will continue to evaluate their progress and initiate new programs annually under the Conservation Action Plan framework facilitated by The Nature Conservancy and the CNMI's Division of Environmental Quality.
This workshop was funded by NOAA's Coral Reef Initiative and The Nature Conservancy through DEQ's Nonpoint Source Pollution branch. For more information, please contact Kaitlin Mattos, at 664-8500. (PR)