The CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources, through the CNMI Office of the Governor, has received a $250,000 grant from the Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program for ongoing efforts to combat against the invasive coconut rhinoceros beetle threat, which was first discovered on the island of Rota in October 2017.
Much needed equipment, additional staffing, and supplementary outreach is proposed to protect the CNMI’s diverse ecosystem. Rota continues to combat this invasive species, with the following impacted areas: Southwest – Tweeksberry Beach Park, Paupau (Liyo), and Small Island and Southeast – Talakhaya, Gagani, Poña Point, Gua’a and along the Okgok stream. The southeastern impacted area was identified this past September and Small Island this past November. The discoveries of new CRB affected zones, outside the initial containment sites, have raised concerns and prompted urgent discussions on the CNMI’s response strategy. The new infected areas comprise well over 241 acres (978,000 square meters) and is more densely forested than the original site.
Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony T. Benavente and CNMI Invasive Species coordinator Frank LG Aldan visited the island upon discovery of the newly affected southeastern region and met with Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig, DLNR-Rota resident director David M. Calvo, and CRB field supervisor Mark C. Manglona. Discussions to heighten current measures and adopt new eradication and prevention methods were arranged to execute a plan of action on Rota. With the advice and support from Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, additional funding was sought out to assist with the proactive and immediate response planned.
This new funding awarded from OIA will greatly aid in furthering all coconut rhinoceros beetle detection, eradication, and prevention efforts. Atalig expressed his gratitude to OIA for the administration’s prompt response to Rota’s call for need and for the continual support, which has allowed the CNMI to initiate and further its eradication efforts.
“Rota is at a significant turning point where efforts, especially human resources, must be increased to prevent irreversible devastation caused by the coconut rhinoceros beetle. Through close collaboration with its CNMI and federal partners, the Municipality of Rota plans to remain proactive and steadfast as it prioritizes this issue,” said Torres.
Torres further thanked the Office of Grants Management for assisting DLNR with the CRB Emergency grant proposal and for providing technical support for Rota’s several federally-funded projects. (PR)