Friday, May 25, 2007

Coming soon to an RC&D near you!

Part of my NFWF grant pays for publicity materials. We finally got around to ordering them this week. They should be ready next week.

We are purchasing 170 canvass bags that look like this:

Our slogan this year has been, "what we do on the land can affect our marine environment." These bags will help people understand how garbage, litter, and recycling affect our coral reef ecosystems, especially our turtle populations.

We are also ordering 650 bumper stickers and a 10' x 4' banner that look like this:

The bumper stickers will do the same they are pretty.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Club V Party Time!!!

Did you know that everytime you ate at Grand Hotel or Fiesta Resort from March 15 - April 15 you made a $1 donation to Beautify CNMI?

They are going to present the money they collected at a ceremony at Club V on Friday night. Come watch the presentation and then party with us!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Get your BC Gear!

I used to put some t-shirts for sale online. This is perfect for you offisland people who want to show that Beautify CNMI pride! Just click on the button in the column to the right.


PLEASE allow us the opportunity to congratulate Ms. Marites Castillo and her untiring team of volunteers on winning the 2006 USDA Earth Team Group Award and the 2007 Governor’s Beautify CNMI Environmental Steward Award. We appreciate their past service as members of MOVER and now as members of Friends of the Mariana Islands, or FMI.

We have heard that there has been some talk in the community and that there has been some confusion as to the proper recipient of these two awards. USDA and Beautify CNMI! handed over these two awards to the group of individual volunteers from MOVER and FMI who, under Ms. Castillo’s leadership, have volunteered with Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council and the USDA Earth Team as part of the Beautify CNMI! coalition.

Ms. Castillo and her volunteers have given their time to Beautify CNMI! every weekend for 12 months straight. The three people creating this confusion came to one tree planting event almost a year ago, didn’t help out at the event, and then left after they were prominently featured in a group photo. Do you seriously think we didn’t notice?

Let us be as clear as we can: as the former president of MOVER and the current president of FMI, these two awards belong to Marites Castillo and to the members of MOVER and FMI with whom she has volunteered her time. If you were one of those people, even if you only came to just one event with the intention of only getting your picture taken, I encourage you to tell the world that you were a winner, but the plaques stay with Ms. Castillo.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

Beautify CNMI!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Improving Beach Access

Improving Beach Access: Mariana Island Nature Alliance (MINA) and Coastal Resource Management Office(CRMO) are set to open a new concrete staircase at Obyan Beach tomorrow.

Funded with a grant from US Fish and Wildlife Services, MINA and CRMO are finished with the latest phase of a project to better manage and protect the Green Sea Turtle nesting site at Obyan Beach.

Several months ago vehicular access to the beach was blocked off and three Green Sea Turtle education signs were installed near the parking lot. Concrete stairs and an emergency access gate were recently installed to help improve beach access.

CRMO and MINA will turn over the keys to the gate at a ceremony tomorrow at 10 AM. Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management Office will be on hand to accept the keys.

To complete the project, native vegetation and shrubs will be planted around the beach access to help reduce beach erosion. CNMI Forestry is currently propagating the plants. They will be planted during the onset of the rainy season in June with the help of the local Boy Scout Troop and other Beautify CNMI volunteers.

CRMO has also earmarked funds for the construction of two additional staircases to further enhance beach access for divers and locals.

The grant from USFW Service will also pay for a coral reef teacher education camp in August. MINA will train local teachers how to include coral reef education in their curriculum to meet their standards.

Micronesia Challenge on Youtube

Under the guidance of Beautify CNMI Environmental Champion Bree Reynolds, students at Hopwood Junior High School used a problem based approach to learning about the Micronesia Challenge this semester. This video is the final project of one of those students.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May General Meeting Minutes

Thank you, Ruth, for taking the minutes.

General Membership Meeting
Minutes, 5/09/07

The meeting was held in the conference room of the DPW transfer station in Lower Base and chaired by Representative Cinta Kaipat. It was observed that the general meeeting attendance seemed to be declining, but that attendance at committee meetings was growing. In providing Scott Crockett, Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist and first-time attendee, of an overview of the function of Beautify CNMI!, Angelo explained that BC has no by-laws, no officers, no formal organization. It is intended to to serve as a model for problem solving, the steps being: identify the problem/need, identify the solution, find the means to apply the solution, and then do so.

Angelo welcomed Scott, noting that Scott's office has funding the BC could tap into, and that in turn, the BC could offer his office a network of do-ers, and a means of providing outreach.

The report from Solid Waste, Recycling and Junk Cars committee was deferred due to the absence of its chairman.

Chairperson Angelo Villagomez presented the report from the Restoration and Graffiti committees. Instead of "grafitti," Micronesian Mural Challenge should be used, he said, to put the emphasis on creating art, to encourage positive artistic talent. The MMC committee will solicit art work, identify places to be painted, and provide paints. The project is under the leadership of DPS Crime Prevention Unit's Tricia Semen.

The flame tree replacement program has received funding for 50 trees from Attorney Jed Horey, and for 21 more from individuals to date. The trees will be planted when rainy season starts. Ken Kramer suggested that an embossing stamp be created, for placement on the ground as a means of identifying tree donors. Angelo said he would look into it.

A comment was made re DPW's cutting down of ailing flame trees - that it should wait until the trees have finished blooming. Cinta said she'd follow up on that.

Herminia Fusco reported that Roy Sablan, of HPO, has money to restore the bell tower, which had been one of the Restoration committee's concerns.

Cinta, in her capacity as Legislation Committee chair, reported that she had been asked to amend the littering law to lower the fines for littering, since litter officers were reluctant to impose the $200 fine now in the law for lesser infringements. There was considerable discussion, but all agreed it was important to enforce the principle that littering be against the law - no matter how small. In addition to discussing the pros and cons of lowering the fine, the group suggesting including a mandatory requirement for community service. Publication of the names of litterers, and having them wear identifying vests (labelled "litter bug") were also discussed.

Chris Parke was called upon to for an update on Zoning Board activity - she noted that the zoning board will hold an open house from 2-5 the next day on tentative plans for Garapan and the Beach Road area. Consultant John Owens from Seattle, Oregon, had conducted a 1 1/2-day workshop and the presentation was based on its findings. Among the suggestions coming forth: that the island's architecture reflect its island location.

Angelo noted that the Micronesian Challenge committee had focused on turtle breeding site protection. He note that some government agencies working on the Challenge do not seem to be on the same page as BC.

Scott was then given the floor, and mentioned two specific programs he administers that BC might find useful: EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program), which promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals, and WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program), which encourages the creation of high quality wildlife habitats that support wildlife of national, state and local significance. Both provide funding, for which matching can be done with labor and locally supplied materials. The programs, said Scott, could help leverage BC funds by providing technical assistance and funding in the areas of conservation, forestry, ecology and land use planning.

Discussion focussed on the trail, earlier proposed by Carl Brachaer - dubbed the "Pacific Crest Birdwatching Trail" - whose construction Scott said could be assisted by both the NRCS and RCD programs, under the rubric of creating, enhancing and restoring habitat. Ken Kramer was named head of the Trail committee.

Katie Busenkell reported the Animal Welfare Committees' upcoming pet show, to be held on Saturday at the airport football field, and the committee's project to make presentations on pet care in every school on island. The next PAWS Meeting will be held at Bobby Cadillac's on 5/16 at ll:30 a.m. Nominations will be sought for PAWS Board members.

The new committee chairs named are: Ken Kramer, Trail Committee and Tricia Semen, Micronesian Challenge.

Angelo reported that BC had collected $1200 from ARC, received a $500 check from Bank of Guam, another $500 from Nancy Rushmerand $700 from the Flame Tree festival, plus $1420 from the sale of flame trees to date. About $1400 of the money has already been spent to pay for the awards, some t-shirts, and buttons and stickers from the fundraiser at Aqua Resort.

Cinta reported on the extensive plans San Vicente Elementary School has made for the week of May 21, starting with a full day dedicated to cleaning up the SVS adopted beach at Lau Lau on that Monday.

She reported that Ken Concepcion (KC) is working with Koblerville families to get the Koblerville Youth Center up and running. Among the plans: to hold Friday night family fun programs along the lines of the street market, complete with a stage for performances.

She also mentioned Tanapag's Tataga Fundraising event - BC will be donating a tent for use at the event, and making available information about BC activities and projects. She asked for volunteers to help man the booth between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 26.

It was decided to enter a BC float in the 4th of July parade - Marites Castillo was asked to chair that project/committee.

Lastly, Angelo announced that there will be a clean-up of the Okinawa War Memorial on Saturday, the 26th, in preparation for the arrival of an Okinawan group of visitors.

Steve Hiney, chair of the Solid Waste, Recycling and Junk Cars committee arrived as the meeting was ending. He assured attendees that the junk car project was still alive, and expected to be implemented shortly.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What ever happened to...

...the owners of boat that did this:

I shot that video on Janurary 14, 2007 while diving Dimple. Four months later to the day, I wonder if the owners or the operators of the Pioneer III, the boat that dragged this anchor across our coral reef, were ever charged with any crime?

I know that the resource agencies did an investigation. Did anything come of it?

Reaching out to the kids

Last week I helped PAWS and the Animal Welfare Committee by giving two presentations on pet care to elementary school kids.

The kids in this picture are from Mr. David Steinberg's 4th grade class at Saipan International School. We showed the kids a short video on dogs and then we had them to a couple of worksheets.

It was pretty basic stuff, like don't pull a dog's tail and don't bother a dog that is eating or tied up. The kids seemed to enjoy it.

I saw some of the kids from the classrooms at the Pet Show on Saturday. We'll change this island one kid at a time if we have too!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Treehugger's wife gives tips on saving Energy

It can be done!

On May 4, you ran an opinion column written by Ed Stephens, Jr. regarding "Energy Costs". In the column, Mr. Stephens writes that he "cannot fathom a Saipan house that uses less than 1,500 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity per month." It is a reality and can be done-our home is proof. On average we use approximately 250 kWh per month. Yes, only 250. We live in an "un-insulated concrete sweatbox" house, not a condo or an apartment. We live here full time. In the last six months, our highest bill was $82, and that includes the charge for unmetered water. How do we do it?

- Don’t run the air conditioners. Get a few fans and open up the windows.

- Wash full loads of laundry. Use cold water to wash your laundry.

- Run a few clothes lines instead of using the dryer.

- Turn your water heater to the lowest setting and when you go on vacation, turn it off. Why heat water when you aren’t going to be using it?

- Replace your standard light bulbs with CFL bulbs. We use them in all of our light fixtures.

- Shut lights off in the rooms that you aren’t in.

- Don’t leave outside lights on.

- Plug your entertainment system (TV, DVD, VCR, etc.) into a surge protector bar that has an off/on switch. When you want to use it, flip the switch to on, when you are done, flip the switch to off. All of these components have an internal clock that draws a small amount of electricity even when not in use. Do the same in the kitchen with the microwave and radio. We also use one for our computer.

- If you have ceiling fans, use them. If you don’t, consider installing them.

- When buying new appliances, choose Energy Star products if available. We put our Energy Star TV in our living room even though it is smaller because that is where we watch TV 90 percent of the time.

There are many more things that we do in our house to be energy efficient, but I won’t bore you. Just look at your everyday actions and ask yourself if you could be doing it in a more energy efficient way.

Sure, living without air conditioning here is a little uncomfortable sometimes. But if it means putting money into our investments and sweating a little versus staying indoors, being cool and rolling pennies to try to make ends meet, we choose to sweat. We like our money and want to keep it rather than hand it over by the fistful to CUC.

Yes, we are treehuggers.

Melissa Highfill
Papago, Saipan

Monday, May 07, 2007


This year, Beautify CNMI! and PAWS are proud to celebrate National Pet Week. In 2007, the week will be observed from May 6-12. In observance of this week, Beautify CNMI! and PAWS have numerous events.

General Events:
Monday, May 7, 2007 at 9:30 a.m., Katie Busenkell and Angelo Villagomez will appear on the Harry Blalock Show on Monday, May 7, 2007 at 7:00 a.m. The topic of conversation will be the newly introduced Animal Protection Act of 2007, why responsible pet ownership is so important, pet care tips, and the events planned for National Pet Week. KZMI will also broadcast pet care tips throughout the week.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 9:30 a.m., Mayor Tudela will sign a proclamation declaring May 6-12, 2007 as CNMI Pet Week. The signing will take place at the Mayor’s Conference Room. All those who are interested are invited to attend.

Sunday, May 6 through Saturday, May 12, Costco and Ace Hardware will offer a discount on various animal care products while supplies last.

Education about the Benefits of Responsible Pet Ownership:

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 – Friday, May 11, 2007, the PAWS Education Committee launch the PAWS education program in the following classrooms: Ms. Ellen’s First Grade class at Kagman Elementary on Tuesday, May 8th at 10:00 a.m.; San Antonio Elementary School’s Second Grade class on Wednesday, May 9th at noon; Ms. Thorpe’s Third Grade class on Thursday, May 10th at 12:00; and Mr. Steinberg’s Fourth Grade class on Friday, May 11th at 11:00 a.m.

Presentations will be given by various volunteers, like Beautify CNMI!’s Angelo Villagomez, and will educate children about the benefits of responsible pet ownership. Presentations include reading to children, showing videos, and engaging the children in activities.

Veterinary Clinics:

Tuesday, May 8, 2007, DLNR Clinic from 8:00 a.m – 9:15 a.m. and from 11:00 a.m until finished, Dr. dela Cruz will hold a special clinic in observance of National Pet Week at the DLNR Animal Health Center. The time of the clinic has been changed so that Dr. dela Cruz can attend the signing of a proclamation declaring May 6-12 CNMI Pet Week.

Services that are available include: parvo vaccination for $5.00, a combo vaccination for $10.00, treatment for skin diseases, and Revolution prescriptions for $5.00. Revolution is a topical parasiticide that is applied to the skin of dogs six weeks of age or older, and is used to: prevent heartworm; kill fleas, flea eggs, ticks, and ear mite infestation, AND kills roundworms and hookworms. Revolution is also used to treat and control sarcopic mange.

“The Best of the Worst” Dog Show:

Saturday, May 12, 2007, from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at the Airport Football Field, Beautify CNMI! and PAWS proudly present The Best of the Worst Show – Saipan’s first pet show! The pet show is a fun event intended to help us laugh at ourselves and the animals that we love.

The show will take place from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at the airport football field.

Prizes will be awarded to dogs that get the highest marks in the following categories: Fattest, Shortest Legs, Most Uneven Ears, The Booniest, The Most Disobedient, Silliest Pure Breed, and The Best of Show.

Prizes include, but are not limited to: gift certificates to the DLNR Animal Clinic for free vaccinations and de-worming, Frontline, large bags of dog food, tick and flea shampoo and sprays, vitamins, and collars and leashes.

Everyone is invited to participate. There is no entry fee. All those wishing to enter their dog(s) in the show must have their dog fitted with a collar and leash. If your dog has mange or other parasites, PAWS and Beautify CNMI recommend skipping the pet show. Instead, please take your dog in for treatment.

Those who wish to attend the show should bring a beach blanket, drinks, and a water bowl for their dog(s). Water will be provided for the dogs, but bowls must be provided by the owners. Various drinks will be on sale at the show, and all proceeds will be donated to MINA.

PAWS Education Committee Mascot Competition:
Also at the Dog Show, PAWS and PAWS Junior Members will announce the winner of the PAWS Education Committee Mascot Competition. All elementary school children were invited to participate in a drawing competition for the first PAWS Education Committee Mascot. The winner of the competition will be awarded with TWO tickets to PIC’s water park. Entry forms must be submitted to PIC by Thursday, May 10th at 4:00 p.m.

After the dog show, there will be a Beautify CNMI! clean-up of the bomb shelters.

Sponsors this week’s events include Beautify CNMI!, PAWS, DLNR, PIC, Costco, Ace Hardware, Elite Printing, MARPAC, Mayor Tudela, DEQ, and various members of the community who have donated their time and resources.

For more information on how you can be a responsible pet owner or participate in events planned for CNMI Pet Week, contact Katie Busenkell at or visit the PAWS blog site at

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

One Of BC's Most Valuable Partners For April Is Shirley's!

We can't stop singing your praises . . . Great Food. . .

. . . Great Staff. . .

GREAT ManagementAngelo Villagomez, Susan Macario, Jerry Tan, and Rep. Cinta Kaipat.
Thank you to Susan Macario and her staff at Shirley's Restaurant for exemplifying the Beautify CNMI! spirit all weekend during the recently held Flame Tree Arts Festival. Honda-san (ISA-CNMI), Marites Castillo(FMI), Rep. Cinta Kaipat, Susan Macario (Shirley's) and Angelo Villagomez (RC&D; MINA; and Beautify CNMI!)

Great Partners!

The Great Turtle Escape

This guy hatched on Monday, April 30, 2006.