Forbidden Island Marine Sanctuary: Forbidden Island is small islet off the eastern coast of Saipan. There is a steep trail leading down to the beach from the road which takes about 30 minutes to hike. It rates high on the difficultly scale. There is a swimming hole and several caves to explore along the beach as well as dozens of interesting tide pools.An environmentalist running for Mayor of the island of Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is looking to voters on distant shores to help him get elected.
Angelo O’Connor Villagomez, best known as the Saipan Coordinator for the Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy, a campaign that led to the creation of the 95,000 square mile Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, says that if elected he will support community programs that protect coral reefs surrounding the island of Saipan. In an effort to raise funds for his grassroots campaign, he is promising to take off-island voters* who donate $20 or more for a personal guided tour during their next visit to the popular tourist destination.
“My idea is that voters and environmentalists who want to protect coral reefs can do so by helping me get elected and then once I’m mayor, I’ll take them on a personal tour of one of our beautiful marine protected areas during their next visit,” explains Villagomez.
Villagomez said the personalized tour could include scuba diving at the Grotto, swimming at Bird Island, snorkeling at Managaha, or hiking at Forbidden Island. All are locally managed marine protected areas created in 2000.
Bird Island Marine Sanctuary: Bird Island is a small islet off the eastern shore of Saipan. Just a short 10 minute hike from the road, recreational activities include swimming and snorkeling.Villagomez has made coral reef protection one of the central issues of his campaign.
“Our environment is our economy,” explains Villagomez. “Not only are we dependent on a clean, healthy environment for a robust tourism industry, but our people depend on the ocean to put food on the table for their families.”
Saipan Grotto: The Grotto is a sunken limestone cave with underwater tunnels that lead to the ocean, giving the water an unworldly blue hue. Sport Diver magazine named the Grotto the #2 cavern dive in the world.“Angelo is a staunch environmental advocate with a proven track record for environmental stewardship,” says Rick MacPherson of the Coral Reef Alliance. “A vote for Angelo is a vote that will have a positive long-term environment impact on thousands of coral reef species--Ensuring healthy reefs that in turn sustain a thriving Saipan.”
Managaha Marine Conservation Area: Managaha is a small sand cay off the western shore of Saipan. The most popular tourist spot on Saipan, it offers some of the best snorkeling in the Pacific region.The waters surrounding Saipan support over 1000 species of fish and nearly three times as many coral species as the Florida Keys.
For more on Angelo O’Connor Villagomez visit http://www.AngeloVillagomez.com.
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*Commonwealth law restricts campaign contributions to American citizens only. Donors do not need to be registered to vote in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and there is no contribution limit, although names of all donors donating over $500 have to be reported