Division of Coastal Resources Management Director Fran Castro Houk, forester James Manglona and the Tasi Watch Rangers of the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance were honored last week for their “outstanding contributions to coral reef conservation.”
Houk, Manglona and the MINA Tasi Watch Rangers, Julius Reyes and Wayne Dawe, received their awards during the second day of the 2016 U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting at the Hyatt Regency Guam on Friday.
Houk and Manglona were commended for outstanding management while the Tasi Watch Rangers were honored for their outstanding jobs in drawing community participation.
The U.S. All-Islands Coral Reef Committee Secretariat nominated Houk who nominated Manglona and the Tasi Watch rangers.
The committee’s chair for eight years now, Houk has been the CNMI’s coral reef point of contact for over 10 years and the islands’ “go-to” person for anything related to coral reefs.
The secretariat said her “penchant for results and leadership style have earned her a seat on numerous committees including the Coastal State Organization, Micronesia Challenge and Pacific Regional Ocean Partnership and Regional Planning Body.”
Her leadership in coral reef management “has resulted in positive momentum toward ensuring thriving coral reef ecosystems for present and future generations. Her passion, leadership, partnerships and cultural connections have been strong contributions to the task force’ successes and the CNMI’s leadership in coral reef management.”
As for Manglona, Houk said he has been a dedicated leader of the Talakhaya Restoration Project and an inspiration to all who have worked with him.
He was instrumental in the formation of the Luta Livelihoods Initiative, a program that brought together community members on Rota to learn about the importance of the Talakhaya Watershed.
In doing so, he motivated them to help in the restoration efforts for over a decade. As a result of his commitment, the Talakhaya project has not only restored the ecosystem’s health and its adjacent coral reefs, but also built community ownership and pride.
MINA’s Tasi Watch Rangers, for their part, “actively promoted environmental stewardship in the CNMI. They are the eyes and ears of the enforcement teams. They also educate resource users by providing information on priority watersheds, coral reefs and existing regulations. They provide written statements or testimony to government agencies as witnesses to violations or incidents in Laolao Bay, marine protected areas and priority watersheds. They have also been recognized in the community as the ‘keepers’ of Laolao Bay and other major shoreline and reef areas.”