There is a lot of great conservation news in the local newspaper this morning.
Starting off with an article that I wrote, Beautify CNMI: Off to a busy start in 2008, is news about the continuing environmental volunteer activities going on in the Marianas. The backbone of this effort is the Friends of the Mariana Islands, who volunteer their time every single weekend. Equally important though, are groups like CNMI Power and Shirley's Coffee Shop, who have adopted a spot and clean it up once a month and government agencies like DEQ and community groups like Marianas Dive that clean up a different beach each month.
There is also news in the Saipan Tribune about the Marianas newest conservation area in the Talakaya Watershed in Rota. This is an exciting development. Talakaya has a revegetation project going on similar to the one in the Laulau Watershed in Saipan. Like our slogan says, "What we do on the land can affect our marine environment." This designation will improve wildlife up in the forest and down under the waves.
There is also news that it is now illegal to feed sharks and kill eagle rays in our waters. The West coast of Saipan is blessed to have several locations where up to 75 eagle rays congregate at one time. This is both a diver's and an eagle ray fisherman's dream come true. Eagle rays are not part of the traditional diet of Chamorro, Carolinian, or American, but they are eaten by Koreans, Chinese, and Filipinos.
The fine for taking a single eagle ray is $5000. If you get caught, that's one hell of an expensive scooby snack.
The Flame Trees we've been planting since June 2006 continue to do well. While some have died, the ones that survived are doing very well.
In 2006 we planted about 20 Flame Trees along Beach Road and then last year we planted about 180 trees in throughout Marpi, Garapan, Dan Dan, and Koblerville.
Six months of growth: After only six months, this tree is twice as tall as Saipan's #1 Korean Party Girl. For comparison, the Korean Party Girl has been growing for 26 years.
One of the MINA members, Brad Doerr, grew all of the trees in 2007. He makes his own soil from compost and germinates the tree from a seed to a sapling. They have a strong root system and they've all really taken off since planting.
18 months of growth: This tree is three-four times as tall as EJ. It was planted in June 2006.
Compare this with the coral trees that were planted along Coral Street in Garapan a few years ago.
Root of the problem: These trees never developed a significant root system and then were attacked by a wasp. They need to be replaced soon or the next typhoon will replace them for us.
These trees were planted by taking a 10 foot long branch and burying one end in the ground. The trees sprouted leaves, but they never developed a healthy root system. Even if they hadn't rotted, the first big typhoon would have blown them all down.
This type of tree propagation should not be used in the typhoon prone Marianas. Not only does it produce unhealthy trees, but the trees are a public hazard. Flame trees, which are especially prone to being blown down, should never be planted in this manner. With no root system, the first typhoon will take out every single one.
We should be planting saplings, not 10 foot poles.
Nice coconuts: EJ poses with Beautify CNMI's trees #1000 and #1001.
If you go down to Beach Road to check out our Flame Trees, see if you can find these two small coconuts. When Beautify CNMI started planting trees in 2006, these trees were the 1000th and the 1001st trees planted. How cool is that?
Even these trees have had significant growth. Click here to see these trees in June 2007 and July 2006.
I've been meaning to put a small plaque next to them. I'll get around to it sometime this year.