Puerto Rico: threats to rare nightjar, and by fallout from Vieques military base


Puerto Rican nightjar

From BirdLife:

A proposed windfarm in the Karso del Sur Important Bird Area (IBA), Puerto Rico, could wipe out five percent of the global population of the Critically Endangered Puerto Rican Nightjar Caprimulgus noctitherus.

Also from Puerto Rico, from the New York Times of nearly four years ago:

Vieques: Navy Leaves a Battered Island, and Puerto Ricans Cheer

DAN CANEDY

2 May 03

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico, May 1—For most of the more than 9,000 people of Vieques, the official end today of Navy bombing exercises after more than 60 years was cause for an island-wide celebration of the conclusion of a painful era and the hope for a new beginning.

“People are very jubilant,” said Ardelle Ferrer, a 51-year-old artist who has been celebrating all week and is building a sculpture in honor of the island.

“Everyone is so happy seeing something that seemed so impossible.”

Vieques officials were to begin four days of activities celebrating the Navy’s departure in the first minutes of today, but the party started early when Gov. Sila M. Calderon arrived on Wednesday afternoon and addressed already jubilant residents.

Dozens of locals and residents from the main island, many wearing shirts reading “Celebration of Peace on Vieques,” clapped and cheered when the governor arrived at Isabel Segunda’s town square to the sounds of a steel band.

“This is a moment of great happiness and profound emotion,” Governor Calderon said.

“Together, we achieved the end of the bombing.”

However, Vieques still has a bad ecological legacy from the Navy presence.

And today, the US military is stil very lax in cleaning up what it has done.

Nightjars in the Netherlands: here. And here. And here.

Nightjar in England: here.

Puerto Rican music and politics: here.

7 thoughts on “Puerto Rico: threats to rare nightjar, and by fallout from Vieques military base

  1. US to review contested study that found no adverse effects of military exercises in Vieques

    MANUEL ERNESTO RIVERA Associated Press Writer

    5:15 p.m. EDT, August 13, 2009

    VIEQUES, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.S. authorities have begun a review of a five-year study that found no ill effects caused by decades of military exercises on the tiny island of Vieques.

    The executive director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry met with residents late Wednesday and pledged to revisit the agency’s findings. Howard Frumkin said officials would correct data and investigate further if needed.

    “If there is anything more we can do, it will be done,” he said.

    Frumkin’s visit to Puerto Rico marks the start of the review of a study that came under fire in congressional hearings earlier this year.

    But his visit was met with suspicion from residents, who long resented the presence of the U.S. military on the island that lies just east of Puerto Rico.

    The U.S. Navy bought two-thirds of Vieques in 1948 and used the land as a bombing range for nearly 60 years. Protesters demanded the military’s ouster after an errant bomb killed a civilian security guard in 1999.

    The Navy left in 2003 and has cleared thousands of unexploded rockets, cluster bombs and other munitions from the area, which is now a Fish and Wildlife Service refuge.

    Last year, the Navy announced it had set aside $200 million for another seven years of cleanup efforts targeting more than 9,000 acres (3,600 hectares) of the almost 23,000 acres (9,300 hectares) it occupied.

    But residents say the cleanup is leading to more contamination because bombs are being detonated in the open.

    Community leader and anti-Navy activist Robert Rabin said previous studies “represent the death of this community because it has already been shown how the Navy used those studies to justify open detonation and burning of vegetation.”

    Democratic Rep. Steven Rothman of New Jersey has said he expects an update of the revision by October.

    “I find it unacceptable that the residents of Vieques have not been given a fair assessment of the health risks associated with years of U.S. Navy activity,” Rothman said in a statement earlier this year. “It is obvious that ATSDR’s studies declaring no negative impact are highly controversial.”

    His spokesperson, Carrie Giddins, said Thursday that Rothman was not available for comment.

  2. Rat eradication project in Puerto Rico – The Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña, Inc., (SOPI, BirdLife in Puerto Rico), the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have collaborated in a rat eradication project on two small cays in southern Puerto Rico. The primary objective of the project was to eradicate the population of Black Rat Rattus rattus in order to improve the breeding of Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis, locally classified as threatened. The DNER lead the project, USFWS provided the funds and SOPI provided the administrative and logistical support. To eradicate rats from the cays, bait stations were used. These stations were monitored daily during the eradication period, and monitoring continued afterwards. Both cays now appear to be rat-free, and the pelicans have begun to build nests.

    http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2009/10/news_in_brief_18.html

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