Sea Turtle Festival Again a Smash Hit in Puerto Rico
The 5th Annual Festival del Tinglar (Sea Turtle Festival) took place in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, the next-to-last weekend in April.
The Northeast Ecological Corridor, one of the Puerto Rico Sierra Club's top priorities, is one of the most important U.S. nesting grounds for the critically endangered Leatherback, the world's largest sea turtle.
"The festival was a big success," says Chapter Director Camilla Feibelman. "In the afternoon the police closed the entrances to town because it was so full."
More than 7,000 people came to the event throughout the day to learn about the turtle and the corridor and other environmental issues.
Below, P.R. Chapter Chair Angel Sosa, in green shirt, at the Sierra Club's booth.
"We hold the festival in Luquillo because it's adjacent to the Northeast Ecological Corridor," says Feibelman, at right below with festival volunteers. "We hope the town will become the gateway to the NEC."
Below, the Sierra Club booth at the festival.
The Sierra Club was a key player in getting the Northeast Ecological Corridor, below, designated as a nature reserve in 2007 by then-Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. But in October 2009, the new governor, Luis Fortuño, removed the designation in order to allow for large-scale development in the area, including more than 4,500 residential and tourist units and four golf courses.
The Sierra Club and its coalition partners are challenging the development project and Governor Fortuño's cancellation of the nature reserve designation of the NEC. The Club has also challenged the planned development in court.
In addition to being a key nesting area for the Leatherback, below, the NEC is home to more than 50 rare, threatened, endangered, and native species, including the Snowy Plover, the Brown Pelican, the Puerto Rican Boa, the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, and the West Indian Manatee.
The Sierra Club and its coalition partners are mobilizing supporters to call on Governor Fortuño to reverse his decision and approve the Land Use and Management Plan for the Northeast Ecological Corridor Nature Reserve that was presented in public hearings last year and had overwhelming public support.
"Governor Fortuño still has a chance to demonstrate his commitment to the protection and sustainable development of the Northeast Ecological Corridor before it's too late," says Angel Sosa.
All photos by José A. Menéndez except Leatherback turtle photo from Wikimedia Commons.