Learning center for wetlands officially opensMarianas Variety, Wednesday, January 31, 2007
By Marconi Calindas
The Kagman Education Island Wetland learning center is now officially open to the public for education tours.
The federally funded learning center held its ribbon cutting ceremony at the site in Chacha Road, Kagman yesterday morning.
Marianas Resource Conservation and Development Council vice-president Ike Cabrera, who presided over the ceremony, said the center was built to help schoolchildren with their research on wetlands.
Agriculture Division staff member Ben S. Borja said the learning center would be locked up for security reasons and would be opened only upon request. He said the site is also a sanctuary for migratory birds that seasonally fly from neighboring countries such as Taiwan.
USDA RCD coordinator Ken Kramer said the project was in collaboration with the Coastal Resources Management Office and the Department of Lands and Natural Resources. It was funded through the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Signs have been put up around the site that answer several questions such as: What is a Wetland?, What is a Wetland’s Function?, Endangered Species and Wetlands and Wetlands in the Landscape.
Kramer said the signs would help inform students and the public about the role that wetlands play in the environment.
“Wetlands are important for many reasons. They provide flood protection by slowing and holding stormwater runoff, allowing the water to slowly infiltrate into the ground, where it is naturally filtered by the silt and sand. This process cleanses the water and replenishes the aquifers from which many of us get our water,” Kramer said.
Sediment-laden runoff destroys marine habitat by smothering the corals, which deprives them of oxygen and sunlight. Wetlands trap sediment and other pollutants that would otherwise flow to the ocean, home of the green sea turtle and other marine life. Fish depend upon corals for food and shelter.
Wetlands also provide wildlife habitat for many types of animals that include insects, birds, reptiles, and fish.
“Come observe the wildlife at the Kagman Education Island wetland and see for yourself what the wetland signs have to say. Schedule your visit with DLNR by calling 256-7923,” Kramer said.
Saipan and Northern Islands Soil and Water Conservation District chair Isidoro T. Cabrera commended the realization of the learning center. “The Kagman Education Island serves as a reminder to all of us that effective resource conservation, is based on a strong combination of knowledge and cooperation,” he said.
Rep. Cinta Kaipat said she was “pleasantly surprised” to learn that the center was beautiful and would truly be useful for CNMI students.
At least 30 Kagman High School students participated in the event led by KHS student Chelsea Ruluked and faculty Allan Davis. The students unveiled the signs installed within the wetland center.
For more information on the Kagman Education Island Wetland contact, Ignacio V. Cabrera, vice president, MRC&DC at (670) 236-0894, Fax: (670) 236-0895; web sites: www.hafa-adai.org or www.hafa-adai.blogspot.com or e-mail Kramer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested schools and organizations can also contact Diane Gabaldon of the S&NISWCD 256-7923.
Conservation council wants more ‘education islands’ in NMI
By Emmanuel T. Erediano
Variety News Staff
THE Marianas Resource Conservation and Development Council is looking for more wetlands that can be converted into “education islands,” says its vice president, Ike Cabrera, during the inauguration of the Kagman wetland project yesterday.
Students from Kagman High School were the first ones to learn more about wetlands at the Kagman Education Island on Chacha Road.
“We want kids to do more studies about wetlands,” Cabrera said.
Council president Roland Quitugua said turning wetlands into educational venues helps spread awareness of the need to protect the environment.
The seven acre Kagman Education Island is the latest component added to the wetland which also provides flood control and irrigation to the surrounding farmlands.
Four educational signs have been installed in the area.
Coastal Resources Management Office’s Tim Lang said the signs are federally funded and cost $7,000.
The signs provide information about wetlands, how they works, their locations, and the endangered species that can be found in these areas.
Kagman is a farming area for Saipan, according to Scott Crocket, a district conservationist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services.
“So the wetland also plays an important role in irrigation,” he added.
Quitugua said the purpose of the education island project is to mitigate some environmental impacts.
“This is a living laboratory not only for the students but for the community as well,” he added.
According to Ken Kramer of the Marianas Resource Conservation and Development Council, “what we do with land management affects the quality of our marine environment.”
He said wetlands filter water that runs to the beach and the ocean.