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Establish biological corridors and restore ecosystem functionality post-María

Caribbean Area NRCS, the US Forest Service and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) first Joint Chiefs’ Initiative project was a reforestation project begun in Dec. 2017 in the wake of the devastation wreaked by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Entitled “Establish biological corridors and restore ecosystem functionality after the impact of a major hurricane in the Caribbean,” the Caribbean Area's first JCI project has just completed its three-year project period. Initiative priorities are to:

  • Reduce and mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners;
  • Protect water quality and supply for communities and industry; and
  • Improve habitat quality for at-risk or ecosystem surrogate species.

Tree delivery to Finca Rancho AA in Sabana Grande-30 Aug 2019.The initiative focuses on establishing biological corridors and restoring ecosystem functionality post-hurricane in the central mountain range of western Puerto Rico. The project area includes the Río Grande de Añasco, Río Guanajibo, Río Culebrinas, Río Guajataca, Río Camuy and Río Grande de Arecibo watersheds. NRCS is working with the US Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) along with 10 other partners to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and soil health, mitigate wildfire threats, and improve habitat quality for at-risk species. The NRCS portion of the project allocates financial and technical assistance to eligible land and farmers from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to establish selected conservation practices on their land. Targeted practices include: multi-story cropping, silvopasture, tree/ shrub establishment, fire breaks, hedgerow planting, and windbreak/ shelterbelt establishment. Some accomplishments for this project over the past two years include:

NRCS and conservation partners deliver 1,088 shade trees to Milk Money Inc Dairy in Hatillo, PR, Aug. 16, 2019Trees distributed through the initiative (right) include:

  • Andira inermes (Moca or Dog almond)
  • Bourreria succulenta (Palo de vaca; Pigeon berry)
  • Bucida buceras (Úcar, gre-gre, black olive)
  • Busera cimaruba (Almácigo, turpentine tree)
  • Calophyllum antillanum (María, Maria galba)
  • Clusia rosea (Cupey, autograph tree)
  • Cordia alliodora (Cápa Prieto, Spanish elm)
  • Cordia dentada (white manjack)
  • Guazuma ulmifolia (Guácima; Jacko kallaloo)
  • Inga laurina (Guáma; Sweet pea)
  • Inga vera (Guába; River koko)
  • Pithecellobium arboreum (Cojoba; Wild tamarind)
  • Roystonea borinquena (Palma real; Puerto Rican royal palm)
  • Tabebuia heterophylla (Roble blanco, pink cedar)

Endangered Puerto Rican parrot, Sharp-shinned hawk, Broad-winged hawk, and Elfin woods warbler.The initiative targets four threatened, endemic bird species:

  • Puerto Rican parrot,
  • Elfin-woods Warbler,
  • Broad-winged Hawk, and
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk.

The success of the initiative will be measured primarily based on the amount of acreage enrolled in the program, the number of conservation plans developed, the growth and survival of trees planted for habitat restoration and enhancement purposes, the improvement of habitat quality, and the increase of suitable habitat for the four targeted species.

Required Land Uses

  • Crop
  • Forest
  • Farmstead
  • Pasture
  • Associated Agricultural Lands

Approved Natural Resource Concerns

  • Degraded Plant Condition
    • Undesirable plant productivity and health
    • Inadequate structure and composition
    • Excessive plant pest pressure
    • Wildfire hazard, excessive biomass accumulation
  • Insufficient Water
    • Inefficient moisture management
  • Water Quality Degradation
    • Excess nutrients in surface and ground waters
    • Excessive sediment in surface waters
    • Elevated water temperature
  • Inadequate Fish & Wildlife Habitat
    • Inadequate habitat - food
    • Inadequate habitat - cover / shelter
    • Inadequate habitat - water
    • Inadequate habitat - habitat continuity (space)

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