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The United States Fish and Wildlife Service & the Communities of Vieques, Puerto Rico Working together for Sustainable Development & Tourism while focusing on Natural Resource Management Laguna Kiani Fish & Wildlife on Vieques

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The United States Fish and Wildlife Service & the Communities of Vieques, Puerto Rico

Working together for Sustainable Development & Tourism while focusing on

Natural Resource Management

Laguna Kiani

fish wildlife on vieques
Fish & Wildlife on Vieques
  • On May 1st 2001 The United States NAVY turned over 3,100 acres on the West side of the island formally used as ammunition storage to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The Navy’s land on the eastern side of Vieques was given to Fish and Wildlife two years later. The lands that the FWS control are part of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.
  • The Vieques National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge that is a part of the Fish and Wildlife Service, which in turn, is a division of the Department of the Interior.
  • The Department of the Interior also includes other offices and bureaus such as the National Park System, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Other units of the FWS include Bird Habitat Conservation, the Federal Duck Stamp, the National Fish Hatchery System and the Endangered Species Program.
  • Puerto Rican Fish and Wildlife falls under the Southeastern Region of the National Fish and Wildlife Service. Some state Fish and Wildlife Agencies have community outreach programs, such as Florida (see http://myfwc.com/planning/ReOrg/Narrative/CommunityRelations.pdf). These programs are important to building better cohesion with the local community by giving the community a place to direct their grievances. This office would conduct its own efforts to increase public awareness of the issues under its purview and encourage participation in recreational activities or other opportunities it provides.
how can the community get involved with the f ws
How can the community get involved with the F&WS?

The community of Vieques did not ask the Fish & Wildlife Service to take control of former Navy lands, and the Fish & Wildlife Service did not ask to take control of the land. While being prepared to manage the land, and fighting for the transfer of former navy territory to the community, Viequenses must also optimize current opportunities for use of the land. This may be accomplished through dealing tactfully with Fish & Wildlife, taking advantage of programs they offer while continuing in the struggle for the consignation of the land. The following are tactics and avenues to create space for local land management in what is hopefully an interim period of Fish & Wildlife control, while simultaneously not compromising the struggle for the reclamation of the land.

  • Pressure Fish and Wildlife to put more resources into community outreach, by setting up a Community Relations Office.
  • Become familiar with grant programs and available federal funding.
  • Learn more about the permits available, and application process, through the local Fish & Wildlife Office, and how such permits can be better used to benefit the local community.
  • Ensure that community is familiar with the structure of the Fish & Wildlife Agency and its place in our broader governmental structure.

Resident Advisory Board (RAB) A Technical Review Committee was formed in 2001, including several local residents, to provide a forum for discussing the investigation and cleanup of western Vieques. The public is always welcome and encouraged to attend their meetings. The next scheduled meeting is on August 16, 2006 at the El Faro lighthouse.

federal funding and grants
Federal Funding and Grants

The primary responsibility of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Division of Federal Aid is to strengthen the ability of State and Territorial fish and wildlife agencies to effectively meet the consumptive and non-consumptive public needs for such resources. This is accomplished through administration of various grant programs.

For more information see http//www.fws.gov/southeast/federalaid

Quotes from former Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Gale Norton:

  • “In 2001, President Bush signed legislation establishing the State Wildlife Grants program. State Wildlife Grants provide federal money to every state for conservation with the goal of preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. With strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, this program has become one of our nation's core conservation program.”
  • “The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation offers several ways to apply for grants and federal funding. One is known as the General Matching Grant Program. Funds are available for projects to conserve and restore fish, wildlife, and native plants through matching grant programs. The Foundation awards matching grants to projects that address priority actions promoting fish and wildlife conservation and the habitats on which they depend, work proactively to involve other conservation and community interests, leverage Foundation-provided funding, and evaluate project outcomes.” Federal, state, and local governments, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations are welcomed to apply for a general matching grant throughout the year, using the General Matching Grant Guidelines.
  • “The legislation establishing the program also called on all 50 states and six territories to develop statewide wildlife action plans.” In Vieques, this plan is currently going through final review and will be presented at a public hearing on the 28th of June, 2006. The plan will include a strategy for tourism development in the eastern part of the island.
federal funding and grants cont d
Federal Funding and Grants (cont’d)
  • The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation also offers over 40 Special Grant Programs that can bring money into the community for preservation of natural resources and development of eco-tourism. To apply, see http://www.nfwf.org/grant_apply.cfm
  • General Matching Grant Program

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funds projects to conserve and restore fish, wildlife, and native plants through matching grant programs. The Foundation awards matching grants to projects that address priority actions promoting fish and wildlife conservation and the habitats on which they depend, work proactively to involve other conservation and community interests, leverage Foundation-provided funding, and evaluate project outcomes. Federal, state, and local governments, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations are welcomed to apply for a general matching grant throughout the year, using the General Matching Grant Guidelines.

http://www.nfwf.org/programs.cfm

f ws permits
F&WS Permits
  • The National Wildlife Refuge System has a mechanism called a “Special Use Permit.” The best way of obtaining information is to call Mr. Diaz at (787) 741 - 2138.
    • A. Agriculture - Haying, grazing, crop planting, logging, beekeeping, and other agricultural products.
    • B. Commercial Activities - commercial fishing, trapping, and other commercial activities.
    • C. Commercial Filming - audio, video, and photographic products with a monetary value.
    • D. Commercial Visitor Services - outfitter/guides for hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and other visitor services.
    • E. Special Events - weddings, fishing tournaments, one time events, and other special events.

Oscar Diaz has expressed interest in working with community groups to help inform the public on how to apply for permits for small eco-tourism outfits and also into the application process for jobs in the Fish and Wildlife service. Do to liability issues he cannot directly help any individual looking to start a tour group or any other activity that leads to economic benefits. Since Fish and Wildlife is protecting and working with public resources, there must be some democratic process with equal participation. If Viequenses want priority in both employment and distribution of permits, they must put together better applications.

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Created by:

Ted Lee

David Wasserman

Jesse Luberoff

Geography 190 – From De-militarization to the Re-development of Vieques

Prof. S. Davis

Special thanks to the people of Vieques, and more specifically those who took the time to talk and work with us.

For more information:

http://www.fws.gov/southeast/ (US Fish & Wildlife Service)

http://public.lantops-ir.org/sites/public/vieques/General/maincom_rel.aspx (RAB details)

http://www.refugenet.org/new-friends-connect/grant%20programs.html (Start-Up Grant Programs)

http://www.nfwf.org/ (Grants through Natl. Fish & Wildlife Foundation)