WASHINGTON, D.C.—Acting Interior assistant secretary for Insular Areas Nikolao Pula made available $189,881 last week for natural and cultural resource protection in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
“We are pleased to support Gov. Ralph [DLG] Torres’ team in shoring up management plans and prioritize efforts around natural resource protection,” said Pula. “We are also pleased to support a non-governmental organization that is working towards the same goals by training youth. All efforts are critical to the future of the CNMI.”
The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality’s Division of Coastal Resources Management will use $95,000 to:
1) Train staff in marine and island eco-systems management;
2) Conduct “Ridge to Reef” educational programs for youth to make connections between land-based sources of pollution and coastal health;
3) Provide surveillance, monitoring, and outreach to reduce littering, violations, and illegal dumping in Garapan;
4) Update the CNMI Coral Reef Management Priorities Setting Document through a two-day workshop involving all key agencies and stakeholders on island;
5) Study Saipan lagoon seagrass to establish benefits these habitats provide to near-shore coastal environment; and
6) Update Conservation Action Plan for Garapan, the most densely populated watershed in the CNMI, and to help prioritize the most imminent among threats such as polluted storm water runoff, nutrient pollution, or algal growth.
The Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance, a non-profit organization in the CNMI, will use $94,881 to educate and train high school and middle school students in community conservation and stewardship programs to protect Saipan’s natural resources and the environment. This year the students will develop a school conservation action plan. They will also carry out reforestation projects at several public parks, particularly in coastal areas impacted by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015.
All funding for cultural and natural resources protection and management was provided for under what was formerly called the Coral Reef Initiative. All four U.S. territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the three freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are eligible to apply.
Discretionary funding provided by the Office of Insular Affairs in the Department of the Interior is appropriated annually by the U.S. Congress to help address needs in the U.S. Insular Areas. (PR)