Monday, August 10, 2009

Beautify CNMI looking for volunteers, coconuts

Phase II of the Laolao Revegetation Project is set to take place this Sunday, August 16 at 8:00 AM. Started in 2005, the long-term project aims to protect the Laolao Bay Watershed by reducing the amount of sediment accumulating on the adjacent coral reefs. Planting trees has been found to reduce the amount of erosion on hillsides.

Organizers are looking for at least 100 volunteers to participate. The Division of Forestry will drive saplings into the revegetation project area on the day of the planting, but the trees will have be hand carried up and down the hillsides to their eventual planting sites.

According to co-organizer Angelo Villagomez of Beautify CNMI, the Saipan Marianas Lions Club and several local families have pledged to volunteer. Villagomez added, “You can never have enough helping hands during these tree plantings, so I hope we get a lot of volunteer help for this one.”

Villagomez is also asking the community to donate coconuts for the planting day.

This will be the first time coconuts are used at the revegetation site. Coconuts are being used because they are likely to survive the acidic soil and poor growing conditions of the badlands.

Contact Villagomez at or 670 285 6462 to donate coconuts, especially saplings.

“I’m hoping that people can just drop the coconuts off in Kagman, but if they contact me early enough in the week I think we can arrange to have them picked up,” said Villagomez.

Organizers are asking volunteers to meet at the Santa Soledad Church in Kagman at 7:45 AM. Tools, gloves, water, and a light snack will be provided, however volunteers are still encouraged to bring a bottle of water, sunscreen, hiking shoes, and a hat. All volunteers for the Laolao Community Planting Day will receive a limited edition Beautify CNMI or Laolao Revegeation Project t-shirt.

Seven acres of tree saplings were planted at the site in 2006. Over 800 saplings and 250 cuttings consisting of six native species were planted and nearly 5000 native seeds were broadcast, including three garbage bags full of softball sized Barringtonia asiatica seeds, all of which sprouted. Six species of tree saplings were planted that year including Sosugi (Acacia Confusa), Kamachili (Pithecolobium dulce), Banalo (Thespesia populnea), Gaogao flores (Erythrina sp.), Da’ok (Calophyllum inophyllum), and Pago (Hibiscus).

The event is sponsored by the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management Office, Beautify CNMI, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Coral Reef Initiative.

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