(Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, June 15, 2022) – The non-profit organization Para la Naturaleza (PLN) inaugurated today a new visitor center at the Palo Colorado Station in the El Yunque National Forest after signing a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
With this collaboration, both entities will increase the outreach and knowledge developed by the communities surrounding El Yunque National Forest, contributing to the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of the northeastern region of Puerto Rico.
Para la Naturaleza will offer three types of tours led by certified environmental interpreters. Among the tours offered are:
Explore the amenities of El Yunque. On this tour you will learn about various recreational and historical areas, being able to observe the components of the landscape, vegetation, and wildlife of El Yunque. As you walk along forest trails, you will learn about the importance of the diverse water bodies found in this ecosystem and their influence on the coast and urban centers of the eastern region of Puerto Rico.
Mt. Britton: From the mountain to the coast. This is a four-hour hike under the forest canopy and visits iconic architectural structures such as the Tower, which was built of stone more than 80 years ago. On clear days, this hike offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the coastal plains of north and southeastern Puerto Rico.
Finally, Nightlife at El Yunque is an interpretive tour which allows you to experience the nocturnal fauna of the forest from the established trails.
To participate in the guided tours, reservations should be made through the Para la Naturaleza website www.paralanaturaleza.org. The cost of the tours fluctuates between $20 and $40 per person.
Palo Colorado Station, a new Para la Naturaleza visitor center
The Palo Colorado visitor center is located near the Caimitillo trail and will be a new space for community interaction and outreach. It also features a store where educational and field trip related items are available for purchase.
“This collaborative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service allows us to offer guided tours to our visitors, who will be able to appreciate the rich biodiversity of El Yunque National Forest and at the same time learn about Para la Naturaleza’s projects and initiatives in the archipelago of Puerto Rico when they visit the Palo Colorado visitor center,” said Fernando Lloveras San Miguel.
For his part, Keenan Adams, Supervisor of El Yunque, said, “This collaboration helps us achieve our goals of providing opportunities to Puerto Rico’s nonprofit organizations, increasing local public access to El Yunque, and achieving social justice and equity. The tours are provided in Spanish and English and are more affordable than those for off-island visitors. In this way, we are also providing alternative access to those who cannot obtain a reservation for the recreational areas on Highway 191,” he concluded.
The 5-year agreement seeks to increase conservation awareness and education through interpretation services, promote volunteer and community engagement, support public lands management, and improve the quality of visitor experiences in El Yunque National Forest and its geographic areas.
About Para la Naturaleza
Para la Naturaleza is a non-profit organization that integrates society in the conservation of its natural ecosystems. Its goal is to ensure that the percentage of natural protected areas in Puerto Rico is 33% by the year 2033. It provides transformative experiences in nature to inspire each person and community to take concrete actions to protect it, such as donating time, money or land. In addition to organizing volunteer, educational events and fundraising campaigns, Para la Naturaleza protects more than 60 natural areas and welcomes the public at visitor centers throughout Puerto Rico.
About the USFS
The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a leader in the management, protection, use, research, and stewardship of natural and cultural resources in the nation’s vast forests and grasslands. The agency was established in 1905 to sustainably manage the national forests and promote the conservation of lands, forests, and grasslands for present and future generations. The Forest Service manages a system of 154 national forests and 20 grasslands for the public good, which is nearly twice the size of California: 193 million acres in 43 states.