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EPA Honors Puerto Rico Environmental Champions

Yaihara Fortis Santiago's picture
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(New York, N.Y. – April 24, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has honored five individuals and organizations from across Puerto Rico with Environmental Champion Awards for their achievements in protecting public health and the environment. EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck was joined by Donovan Richards, Chair of the New York City Council's Committee on Environmental Protection, to present the awards to this year’s recipients at a ceremony at the EPA’s offices in Manhattan. An awards ceremony in San Juan will be held at a later date.

“The EPA is thrilled to honor the work of these environmental trailblazers,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “These Puerto Ricans work tirelessly to protect human health and the environment, inspiring us all to strive for a more sustainable future.”

The Environmental Champion Award winners from Puerto Rico (in alphabetical order) are:

Revista Atabey
Proyectos Ambientales y Educativos, Inc.
Barceloneta, Puerto Rico
For five years, Revista Atabey has been informing and educating readers about ecology and the environment. With a focus on learning to live in harmony with the environment, the magazine’s readership has expanded from Puerto Rico to the rest of the world. Revista Atabey regularly participates in environmental fairs and conventions, and in 2012 organized a forum for Environmental Journalism with the Environmental Information Center of Metropolitan University. Revista Atabey continues to improve with a relaunched interactive web site, now accessible on mobile devices.

Katia Avilés-Vázquez
Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Katia Avilés-Vázquez is Environmental Affairs Manager for Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña. Her work includes support of the Health Impact Assessment for Restoration of Caño Martín Peña, the draft Feasibility Report for the restoration project, supervising epidemiological studies, graduate student mentoring, coordinating the Dredging Technical Advisory Committee, and environmental education activities for children in the Caño. Thanks to her work, ENLACE is a model environmental organization in Puerto Rico. Her work has a direct impact on the health of the community and its ecological survival.

Municipio de San Juan de Puerto Rico
“Viejo San Juan Recicla”
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, a historic, cultural, commercial and residential district located in the capital city of Puerto Rico, achieved the implementation of a recycling program for the first time. It is the only recycling program in Puerto Rico that offers collections every day, twice a day, including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. From June 2014 to February 13, 2015, it recovered 1,040,738 pounds of plastic, aluminum, cardboard and paper. The program also educates citizens on recycling methods and held presentations in Plaza Salvador Brau about creating handmade paper from recycled materials.

Ángel Pérez
Annual Clean-up at the Tortuguero Lagoon Nature Reserve
Vega Baja, Puerto Rico
In 2001, Ángel Pérez organized the first clean-up of the Tortuguero Lagoon Nature Reserve in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. This freshwater body is home to over 717 species of flora and fauna. With Pérez’s leadership, there have since been eight annual clean-up events at the lagoon, collecting nearly 10,000 pounds of trash in 2014. The 2015 cleanup was just a few weeks ago and the approximately 100 volunteers continued to create awareness of the importance of preserving natural resources.

Sociedad Estudiantil de Ciencias Ambientales 
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico
Ponce, Puerto Rico
The Sociedad Estudiantil de Ciencias Ambientales (SECA) in Puerto Rico acts as liaison for environmental education among students and the scientific community. SECA has organized lectures in communities, research centers and universities, and hosts community work cleaning beaches, rivers and forests. For the past two years SECA participated in Puerto Rico’s Zero Waste Recycling Partnership. These young activists are currently lobbying to implement a recycling plan at their university.

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Original Source: EPA Press Release