Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The post in which I rip on Dr. Dela Cruz

There is an article in the Marianas Variety headlined, "NMI ‘loses’ 20-hectare land to reed warbler." In the article Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz laments the loss of land use privileges of a 20 acre plot of land to conservation.

Let's dissect this article.
THE Northern Marianas has just “lost” 20 hectares of its prime land to ensure that the nightingale reed warbler will have a protected habitat, according to Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Ignacio Dela Cruz.

In an interview yesterday, Dela Cruz said the San Juan farm northeast of Saipan was reserved for agriculture.
Who did we lose the land to? Was it sold to someone? And who determined it was prime land? Wouldn't beach front property with access to sewer lines, electricity, and other amenities be more "prime?"

And the San Juan farm is northeast of Saipan? Where? The next speck of land northeast of Saipan is Alaska.
But DLNR’s Agriculture Division has to give up the land and designate it as a conservation area for the protection of reed warbler an endangered bird species.

The CNMI government was required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to address the impact of the proposed $12 million Route 36 or Winward/Chalan Kalabera Road project funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Department of Public Works’ Technical Service Division Director Joe Inos said the Federal Highway Administrator offered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife mitigating measure to minimize the impact of the project on the 16 territories of the reed warbler.

These include the establishment of 50-foot buffer that eventually required the DLNR to designate the San Juan farm plots as conservation area.
Oh, alright. So the land wasn't really lost. It was just set aside as a conservation area to protect a rare, federally protected bird species.
Dela Cruz said nobody can now enter the area and the government can no longer use its economic potentials.
Who said no one could enter the area? Managaha, Forbidden Island, and Bird Island are conservation areas and I can go there. Who made the determination that no one can go to this area? And how is the government using the potential of the area now? If its not being used for economic purposes, why not use it for ecological services. Does Dr. Dela Cruz even know what an ecological service is?
He noted that in Kagman, a single plot produces between $5,000 to $10,000 worth of farm produce that helps feed over 50,000 people on Saipan.

The San Juan farm has potentials for growing a variety of fruits, herbs, nonie plants, nut trees and other agricultural products, e (sic) said.
So a single plot of land in Kagman feed 50,000 people? So how many people do all of the Kagman farms feed? 2.6 million people?
The San Juan farm area is equivalent to 225 house lots, he added.
Does he read the newspaper? What happened the last time they tried to put a homestead in Marpi? It was only two weeks ago! How could he forget so soon?
Turning the farm into a conservation area is basically giving each bird up to 7.5 hectares of land, Dela Cruz said.
Let's do some math. 20 hectares of land divided by 7.5 hectares of land per bird equals 2.67 birds protected by this conservation area. What does 2/3 of a bird look like? And didn't Joe Inos a few paragraphs up say that there were 16 nesting pairs? 16 pairs is 32 birds. 20 hectares for 32 birds is 0.625 hectare per bird, not 7.5.

I guess his calculator is broken.
He said he opposes the idea which he believes will eventually cause hardship in the CNMI.
How does leaving an area in its current state cause hardship?
The federal Endangered Species Act, he added, is designed for the vast U.S. mainland and not for Saipan which is “already too small for its own human population to be taken away for the birds.”
Wow. This is actually the first potentially logical thing the good doctor has said, but his argument doesn't support his conclusion.

I think there are actually reasons to visit how the Endangered Species Act is applied in the Marianas, not necessarily the act itself. Most reasonable people would agree that rare birds endemic to the Marianas should have habitat in which to live. Taking a western approach to conservation (i.e. putting up a sign that says "No Fishing") can have unintended consequences. For example, I've heard stories of people actually going out to kill reed warblers because they are afraid the government will "take" their land if they find out about the birds. Same goes for fishing. When certain people see an English sign that reads "No Fishing," what they actually read is "Good Fishing."
In the Northern Islands, he said, Endangered Species Act can be implemented since there are not too many people living there.
When it comes down to it, conservation laws don't manage nature, they manage people. What Dr. Dela Cruz means to say is that there is no need to conserve or preserve on Saipan because there are birds and fish in the Northern Islands.

Futhermore, he'll throw out any and all scare tactics to build up hatred of the Federal government. The Federal government will "take" your land. The Federal will give your land to a bird. This is prime land. It could be farm land. It could be your homestead property. It will ruin the economy. The birds will mutate into killer pterodactyls and eat your children. Alright, I made that last one up.

It is disappointing on so many levels that this guy heads the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.


Drea said...

If the land doesn't belong to any families than I don't see why not turn it in to a reserve. They could make it like a park and have fieldtrips and families can have picnics.

Anonymous said...

This is the same person who was quoted in the paper a few weeks ago wanting to have an open season on SEA TURLTES...

Anonymous said...

The man is stuck on stupid as are all of Fitial's toadies.