Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Protect the Environment while Shopping!

As part of DEQ’s Green Business Initiative, the Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Carmen Safeway Enterprises team up to offer shopping incentives to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags.

This Saturday, December 15, starting at 10 am, reusable bags will be distributed to the first 100 shoppers who purchase $10 or more in groceries.

The reusable DEQ bag promotion is one way shoppers can protect the environment and promote sustainable living by reducing the amount of plastic bags while grocery shopping.

For each time a shopper uses a canvas or reusable bag for their purchases, the shopper will receive an entry form for a chance to win the weekly gift certificate prize, valued at $25.

Plastic bags can last for hundreds of years and many shoppers use 3 or more for their groceries. It’s a major environmental problem when plastic bags end up in our marine waters that eventually lead to the suffocation of marine life and sea birds. On land, plastic bag litter can block drains and trap birds. They also kill livestock. Plastic bags are also commonly found in all beaches on Saipan, Tinian and Rota. The bags end up in landfills and emit harmful greenhouse gases.

Join the movement to protect our islands’ natural resources. Reducing one’s contribution to plastic-bag pollution is as simple as using a cloth bag (canvas).
For your next trip to the grocery store, BYOB!

CoCo Meeting Minutes for December 5, 2007

CNMI Organization for Conservation Outreach
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 9am @ DFW

MEETING MINUTES by Reina Camacho

Reina Camacho called the meeting to order at 9:05am.

Attendees were: Mike Tripp (Marianas Dive), Teny Topalian (NOAA/DFW), Nate Hawley (DFW), Lee Bowen (NMCCREES), Reina Camacho (DEQ), and Fran Castro (CRI program).

Agency Updates (round robin)

Marianas Dive – performed underwater cleanup at Sugar Dock on Nov 18; will present at the Saipan Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting today at 11am at Hyatt Regency; will hold monthly meeting tonight at Porky’s at 6:30pm; will hold social gathering aboard the Jade Lady III, $30 on December 15th;

Fish & Wildlife – BTS program working group reestablished to reduce risk of species introduction via transportation

Environmental Quality – EPA will be on island until Dece 14th to conduct program reviews

Coral Reef Initiative – Kathleen Hermann will be the next coral reef fellow and shall start the 1st week in February.

Old Business

IYOR - International Year of the Reef
a. January 18th proclamation – Teny provided draft proclamation for comments and only received feedback from DEQ; teny was asked to finalize it and reina to send to group for add’l feedback.
b. Right Route (ride your bike/carpool to work/school day) – fran has sample PSAs; date moved to February instead of April
c. Coral Parade – planning has not started
d. Bus Stop Murals – Fran inquired whether or not the murals where going to be part of the kick-off in January, but no one knew what the status is. Fran suggested that MINA take lead.

NRM program feedback/comments – comments were received by CRM, DEQ and DFW. Reina was asked to send the spreadsheet to other members.

New Business

CRI management grant 2008/2009 – Fran reported the CNMI submitted a $600,000 pre-proposal grant to NOAA to fund: Ecocamps on Saipan, Tinian and Rota; Support for marine enforcement and continuation of MPA outreach and conservation work; student internships; coral reef outreach/education activities; Talakhaya revegetation, etc. Final grant application is due in February.

10 Year Report – Fran announced that she is seeking information on any projects and accomplishments with regards to coral reefs to report at the next U.S. CRTF meeting in Washington, D.C at the end of February.

a. Hollywood Theater Ads – images displayed since July; request assistance from everyone to inform Reina if you see the "Protect Our Reefs" ad.

b. Trash pick up to support NGO cleanup activities – Fran suggested advance written notification to the Mayor’s office; Lee volunteered his truck and trailer.

c. Recycles contest - ongoing; MINA will begin solicitations; there was a request to increase publicity; reina said she already has monthly articles; schools have signed up and attend monthly meetings.
d. Totebag promotion – FYI, ongoing at Joeten supermarkets; will begin at Carmen Safeway within a week or two.

e. COCO improvements/facilitator – request to rotate notetaker just like meeting venue is rotated. Establishing a blog for CoCo was suggested and Fran volunteered to set it up.

f. Partnership/involvement - invite PSS, other groups such as fishermen, divers, etc.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Member Profile: MINA

Mariana Island Nature AllianceMINA is a community - based, nonprofit organization, formed by a group of people dedicated to the conservation of the natural resources of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

We believe that the CNMI has unique and beautiful natural resources, but this natural heritage is at risk of continued degradation. We feel that community involvement in conservation and management is the only way to achieve long-term preservation of our resources, and that non-government organizations can mobilize this involvement. Therefore, we have formed a community-based group dedicated to biodiversity conservation in the CNMI.

Visit the MINA website or call our office at (670) 235-MINA for more information.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Member Profile: Beautify CNMI!

Beautify CNMI logoBeautify CNMI! is a coalition of concerned citizens, private groups, and government entities united to enhance the CNMI's natural beauty and foster community pride in its residents and visitors.

Founded in April 2006, the Beautify CNMI coalition is the recipient of an EPA 2007 Environmental Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Visit the Beautify CNMI blog or call the volunteer line at 285-MINA for more information.

CoCo's History

CoCo is a group that was established in 2004 and is composed of representatives from the following local and federal government agencies and non-governmental organizations : Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Coastal Resources Management Office (CRMO), Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC), Department of Lands and Natural Resources (DLNR), Department of Public Works (DPW), Public School System (PSS), Northern Marianas College (NMC), NOAA, EPA, USDA, NRCS, DOI, DOE, USFWS, Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA), Beautify CNMI! and the Marianas Dive Group.

CoCo's mission is to preserve, protect, and enhance environmental integrity by encouraging responsible stewardship of the CNMI’s natural resources.

Our goal is to facilitate collaboration on environmental outreach projects. Eventually, we expect that CoCo will have many more members, including representatives from outside of the government, i.e., nonprofit organizations, community members and public leaders.

CoCo works cooperatively on projects involving all areas of the environment from the summit to the sea, including litter and recycling, land habitat issues, coral reef degradation, nonpoint source pollution, and water quality. Because CoCo is concerned with environmental issues on both land and sea, the group has chosen the coconut crab as its mascot because the adult coconut crab lives on land and lays its eggs in the sea. Also, the coconut crab is a widely recognized local icon. *CoCo the crab is currently on vacation and will be back in the near future.

CoCo's first task was assisting with the America Recycles Day event in November, 2004. Various agencies supported and enhanced the event with financial donations and assistance with planning and implementation. This year, CoCo in conjunction with the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA) will again assist in the coordination of CNMI Recycles Day, the Right Route project, and will also facilitate and coordinate activities for the 2008 International Year of the Reef.

CoCo meets monthly to discuss upcoming projects or other conservation issues. CoCo also has an email list serve to inform people about upcoming projects, opportunities, and other items of interest involving environmental outreach or education. To subscribe, send an email to coconet-subscribe@deq.gov.mp.

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Reina Camacho at 664-8500 or email reinacamacho@deq.gov.mp