Public comments sought in Grotto survey

In an effort to address safety and environmental concerns, the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and the Department of Lands and Natural Resources are seeking public comments to determine the Grotto’s user capacity.

According to Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony Benavente, the agencies met last week to resolve issues facing the popular tourist site.

“The user capacity limit survey will help us better determine the amount of traffic going in and out of the Grotto. There are many safety and environmental concerns to consider. We know that visitor numbers are increasing and we have to find ways to better manage this influx,” Benavente said.

Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality administrator Frank Rabauliman said that better monitoring of tourism’s impact on the area is needed.

“Our community, as well as tourists, will be able to provide their input on user capacity limits to the Grotto and, at this time, we are considering a gate installation as well as tour operator certification to further address violations or shortfalls,” Rabauliman said.

With the growing number of visitors, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres urges the community to provide their feedback on the user capacity limits.

“Grotto is one of our most vital tourist attractions and we know that increased vigilance is needed in the area to protect our resources. Public Law 11-106 allows DLNR to create rules for tourist access to parks and to apply user fees to support site maintenance and enforcement efforts. With this, along with an information kiosk and appropriate tour operator licenses, sustainable residential and tourist use can be maintained,” Torres said.

The user capacity survey is available in English, Korean, Japanese, and Mandarin. Members of the community and stakeholders and invited to take part in the survey online at http://gov.mp/2017/09/11/public-input-sought-for-grotto-user-capacity-survey/ or https://goo.gl/3vDJiC. (PR)

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