Published in: Revista Atabey
Between the towns of Barranquitas and Comerío, an ecological sanctuary is located, composed by a secondary forest of the low mountain range and a group of canons, known as Cañón Las Bocas. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that this place was included in the geological map of Puerto Rico and the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources knew of its existence.
This gesture was made by a group of residents of both municipalities, who formed the Committee Pro Natural Reserve Cañón Las Bocas, Inc., whose main objective was the designation of this area as a protected natural reserve.
“This canon produces two million gallons of water daily, which makes it an essential system and integral part of the La Plata hydrographic basin. Here we can also find one of the oldest areas of karst in Puerto Rico, even older than the northern karst,” explained Carlos Collazo, member of the Committee and agent of the initiative. He mentioned that in this zone, the Río Grande de Manatí begins.
Habitat of important species
“You can also find here two endangered species: the Puerto Rican boa and the savannah pigeon. According to studies, it is believed that Cañón Las Bocas could be the area of dispersion of the savannah pigeon, who lived before in the town of Cidra.”
Collazo also indicated “the importance of the conservation of the Cañón Las Bocas consists in that Barranquitas is only perpetually protecting 1.3% of its soils, which is the Cañón San Cristóbal; in the case of Comerío, only .09% of its soil, which is the Longo farm, was acquired by the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources as part of its savannah pigeon’s recuperation plan. One of the Committee’s objectives and their vision is to increase the percent of its protected soils in these towns, making the organization into the only one in Barranquitas and Comerío that has been concerned in fighting for the conservation and in increasing the percent of perpetually protected soils.”
Likewise, this natural zone, which includes 4,737,116.72 square meters, is the habitat of bioluminescent fungi and the click beetle Pyrophorus luminosus. The canon is a “hidden marvel”, as the Committee calls it, that is less known in Puerto Rico by the scientific community and the rest. In fact, an important ceiba 300 years old, lies in an “F” form and, after surviving hurricane San Felipe, lives in this area and serves as a bridge of La Ceiba creek.
Collazo emphasized that the Committee works hard with the schools and involves students and teachers with many of their projects. Recently, the organization made a deal with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources for the acquisition of the first 78,580 square feet to designate, for the first time (we hope it’s as soon as possible) in the history of Barranquitas and Comerío a natural reserve, since the Cañón San Cristóbal isn’t today a natural reserve,” said Collazo. “The only thing left is that Natural Resources asks the Planning Team to designate it a natural reserve”.
If you’re interested in visiting Cañón Las Bocas or become a member, you can reach the Committee by calling 939-248-9823 or 787-384-4490.
Conscious Travel Practices:
1. Recognise the importance of the conservation efforts for the place.
2. Learn about the flora and fauna of the place.
3. Learn about the importance of the water resource.