DESIGNATION OF PUERTO RICO’S NORTHEASTERN ECOLOGICAL CORRIDOR AS A NATURE RESERVE
Approved by the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors on October 15, 2006 in Rincón, Puerto Rico
WHEREAS, the SURFRIDER FOUNDATION is a grassroots, non-profit environmental organization dedicated since 1984 to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education.
WHEREAS, SURFRIDER recognizes the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the planet's coasts are necessary and irreplaceable. SURFRIDER is committed to preserving natural living and non-living diversity and ecological integrity of the coastal environment.
WHEREAS, SURFRIDER promotes the right of low-impact, free and open access to the world's waves and beaches, as well as the healthy enjoyment of the coastal environment for all people. SURFRIDER acts to preserve this right of access.
WHEREAS, SURFRIDER is dedicated to enhancing wave-riding opportunities in ways which will not adversely impact nearshore ecosystems.
WHEREAS, the Northeastern Ecological Corridor (“NEC”), comprising approximately 3,000 acres on the eastern corner of the main island of Puerto Rico, is one of the Caribbean’s last great-unprotected areas, containing an extraordinary array of tropical habitats seldom found in other parts of the world.
WHEREAS, all of the coastal wetlands found in PR, such as coral communities, mangroves, pre-Columbian forest, and a bioluminescent lagoon, are represented within the NEC.
WHEREAS, the diversity of habitats within the NEC have made this area home of the federally endangered Puerto Rican (“PR”) Plain Pigeon, the Snowy Plover, the Brown Pelican, the PR Boa, the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and the West Indian Manatee, among other 40 critical species (rare, endemic, threatened and endangered), some even designated as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
WHEREAS, the NEC is considered one of the most important nesting grounds for Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) in areas under US jurisdiction.
WHEREAS, the NEC includes 7 miles of continuous beaches without development and the only beach left in Puerto Rico under a natural condition able to sustain a larger leatherback nesting population. These beaches maintain various surf breaks, including La Selva, known as one of the best surfing spots in eastern Puerto Rico.
WHEREAS, the NEC is currently threatened by the construction of over 1,900 residential and tourist units, two 18-holes golf courses and a 9-holes golf course, as well as related facilities from the development of the San Miguel Resort and the Dos Mares Resort, to be managed by Four Seasons Resorts & Hotels and Marriott International, respectively.
WHEREAS, the construction of the San Miguel-Four Seasons Resort and the Dos Mares-J.W. Marriott Resort would include the filling of wetlands, canalization of rivers and the clearance of coastal vegetation, significantly impacting the species and other living resources that depend on the NEC.
WREREAS, the San Miguel-Four Seasons Resort and the Dos Mares-J.W. Marriott Resort would significantly limit public access to the NEC’s beaches, public lands and other public natural resources.
WHEREAS, the development of the San Miguel-Four Seasons Resort and the Dos Mares-J.W. Marriott Resort would be contrary to the goals and objectives of the US Clean Water Act, the US Endangered Species Act, the US Coastal Zone Management Act and the US Coastal Barriers and Improvement Act, including several Commonwealth’s statutes.
WHEREAS, the destruction of the NEC’s ecology and natural integrity, and the elimination of its common enjoyment for the sole benefit of private interests would be contrary to any principles of environmental justice and sustainable development.
WHEREAS, the NEC’s conservation is consistent with and will further SURFRIDER’s main initiatives toward achieving CLEAN WATER, BEACH ACCESS, BEACH PRESERVATION and the PROTECTION OF SPECIAL PLACES.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the SURFRIDER FOUNDATION Board of Directors, representing over 50,000 members and 64 local Chapters in the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan, Brasil and Puerto Rico, fully endorse the NEC’s conservation as a nature reserve, an action supported by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, the Waterkeeper Alliance, the University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras Campus’ Department of Biology, and local community and environmental groups from Puerto Rico.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the participants of the SURFRIDER FOUNDATION Board of Directors fully endorse the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico House Bill 2105, designating the NEC as a nature reserve, while promoting its sustainable development based on nature tourism and ecotourism activities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the SURFRIDER FOUNDATION Board of Directors request the approval of House Bill 2105 by the Governor, the Senate and the House of Representatives from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the SURFRIDER FOUNDATION Board of Directors request that Four Seasons Resorts & Hotels and Marriott International withdraw any further interest in developing the San Miguel Resort and Dos Mares Resort on the NEC, respectively.