El Yunque National Rainforest
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest within the entire United States, and is one of the eight natural wonders of the world, accounting for a sizable proportion of the US biodiversity in an area smaller than the city of Miami. This past hurricane season, the carribean was battered by a slew of high strength storms that knocked out a great deal of infrastructure, affecting both the environment and population.
As the road network that whips and winds around the mountains of El Yunque is covered by debris, efforts to maintain stations and sites around the national park have suffered deceased maintenance. The forest is home to countless types of plant and animal species, many of which we may catch a glimpse of during our clean up efforts. It is of utmost importance to disturb these species as little as possible as they recuperate from this past hurricane season. The beautiful caves, thick forest brush, and transluscnet freshwater rivers are just some of the facets that makes this forest such an invaluable part of the United States National Forest System.
What Will We Do
While many parts of the island are still without power, the road network within the forest system has been largely overlooked as resources are allocated to high population regions, but the ecological impact of the damage done there is a problem all on its own. The Tangency Foundation will be leading a service initiative in summer 2018 to clear the road network, and remove trash and debris from the site - with plastic pollution ebing carried in for miles inland through river surges.
The Trip is scheduled for June 23rd until July 1st, for a total of 7 days. Throughout the trip, the group will remain together. The itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: Arrival
After boarding the flight in Miami International Airport (MIA), the group will take a roughly two hour flight to San Juan Airport, Puerto Rico (SJU). Transportation throughout the trip will consist of two vans to shuttle the group along the road network. After baggage claim, we will drive to Villa Eshta, where the group will unload supplies for the night for a supply check. During this time, group leaders will hand out supplies, delegate duties for during the service section of the trip, and be explained the proper responsibilities and procedures for maintaining a impact-free and safe environment through the service section. After everyone has been situated, a selection of local restaurants will be made available and voted on, and the group will split up to accomodate with up to up to three groups each with a group leader. We will then converge at the hotel to get a good night's rest.
Days 2-5: Service
The groups will split into their respective buses, and we will make our way towards El Yunque National Forest Service Center, where we will meet up with our guides. After everyone recieves their identification, we will move to to the mainline road where we will begin clearance efforts. The respective tools will be handed out to group members, and debris will be moved form the roadsite. Lunches will take place at scenic spots by El Yunque's fabled waterfalls, and will last for an hour, providing time for group members to socialize. Work will then recommence until 6 o'clock, when group leaders will begin setting up that day's campsite. The shower will be set up and a curtain hung, latrine dug, tents pitched, fire started, and food prepared. Smores will be provided, and ghost stories will be told. A few surprise activities will also be revealed! (Note: The mornings of days 3-5 will consist of an added time allotment for packing up the camp ground and ensuring that no trash is left behind.)
Day 6: Packing up
While Day 6 will follow the schedule of days 2-5 for the most part, we will begin packup procedures at 4, so that we can check back into the Villa Eshta for the night, do a supply check list, and have dinner at a restaurant as a group, hosted by one of our sponsors. Following dinner, the buses will be packed with the supplies.
Day 7: Return Home
The morning of, we will have a communal breakfast at a local cafe and head to the castle of Old San Juan, where we will learn about the rich history and culture of Puerto Rican natives, as well as get a sobering look at the effects of this past hurricane season on the local population. Feel free to purchase souvenirs, as the money will be pumped into the local economy, a much needed investment. We will then take the buses to the airport and depart as a group.