Deputy Secretary Beaudreau Announces New Members to Board of Trustees of The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico

07/06/2023
Last edited 07/06/2023

Date: Thursday, July 6, 2023
Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau today joined local leaders and community members to announce the appointment of three members to the Board of Trustees of The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization established in 1968 between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Government of Puerto Rico. The three board members, a joint appointment between Secretary Deb Haaland and Governor Pedro Pierluisi, will serve a three-year term and help carry out the Trust’s mission on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Ana Maria Garcia Blanco and Roberto Serrallés will join as new members to the Board and Blas Fonalledas has been reappointed for a second term. Deputy Secretary Beaudreau also announced the appointment of Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz as the Department’s Liaison to the Trust’s Advisory Council.

“For more than 50 years, The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico has preserved Puerto Rico’s rich and diverse ecosystems, biodiversity and natural resources. The new members of the Board of Trustees will continue this long legacy and will serve as shepherds of the Trust’s mission to protect and conserve Puerto Rico’s lands and waters, inspire stewards of natural and historical heritage, and promote conservation across the archipelago,” said Deputy Secretary Beaudreau.

The announcement comes during a two-day visit to the island where Deputy Secretary Beaudreau highlighted President Biden’s “Bidenomics” strategy and the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to Puerto Rico’s recovery and renewal, investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and the Department’s work to strengthen the Endangered Species Act.

Today, Deputy Secretary Beaudreau and Assistant Secretary Estenoz held a roundtable in Río Piedras with community leaders and federal partners. The group discussed the climate crisis's impact on the people of the island, collaborative intergovernmental partnerships to protect and conserve Puerto Rico’s unique landscapes, and the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to support a strong foundation for sustained growth.

On Wednesday, the Deputy Secretary traveled to Cabezas de San Juan Nature Preserve in Fajardo, home to Laguna Grande, one of three bioluminescent bays found in Puerto Rico. The Trust acquired most of the lands and waters that make up the nature preserve in 1975, safeguarding the area’s natural ecosystems and unique biodiversity. Through decades of conservation and preservation works, visitors to Cabezas de San Juan and Laguna Grande now enjoy a variety of recreational activities, including kayaking, snorkeling, hiking and bird watching.

The visit also highlighted the recovery of the Puerto Rican Boa and Palo de Rosa. Through robust interagency effort, an iconic Puerto Rican tree was brought back from near extinction. When the Palo de Rosa was listed in 1990, there were only nine known trees. Last year, after more than three decades of collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army and local groups – and with efforts propelled by the Endangered Species Act – the tree was down listed and reclassified from endangered to threatened.

Throughout the year, the Department is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ESA and its importance in preventing imperiled species' extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. The ESA has been highly effective and credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted based on recovery or downlisted from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status. Hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens.  

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