In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), increased development in coastal and inland areas and increased use of our terrestrial and marine natural resources has exacerbated threats facing our environment. Trends observed by long-time residents include an increase in impermeable surfaces, the localized depletion of fish stocks, increased contamination of beaches and near shore waters, and destruction of coral reefs. These effects are magnified within the Garapan area, which serves as Saipan’s center of population, commerce, economic development and tourism, as well as a gathering place for the community.
Garapan and its surrounding villages form a large part of the West Takpochao watershed, and although the majority of the environmental threats are land-based, strong rains during parts of the year and the natural flow of water causes land-based threats to have dramatic effects on the Saipan lagoon. From a long-term perspective, the decline in marine health threatens the CNMI’s cultural heritage, traditional ways of life and physical protection from storms. However, this decline also immediately impacts CNMI’s tourism and fisheries industries, and thus its economy. As such, the CNMI government places coral reef ecosystem conservation and management as a priority concern (CNMI and NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, 2010).
The Garapan Conservation Action Plan (CAP) is a cooperative effort between regional, federal and local partners with mandates or missions to improve, protect, enhance and conserve the many natural, cultural, social and economic resources within the Garapan area of Saipan. Follow the link above to access the full document.
Through the process of updating the Garapan CAP in 2012/2013, water quality came out as one of the most important things to improve within Garapan. An array of strategies will be pursued to influence water quality, including:
CRI Watershed Coordinator has been holding biweekly presentations with the 4th grade classes at Garapan Elementary School. Presentations have ranged from defining a watershed, to learning about coral life cycles.
BECQ staff are working with staff from the Department of Public Works to clean out the underground drainage pipes and open ditches throughout Garapan. Hundreds of pounds of dirt mixed with wastewater, garbage, grease and rainwater are being removed from these pipes and ditches and proberly disposed of.