The 4th annual La Ruta Maya River Challenge will be held March 8 - 11,
and
the grand prize is now expected to be $60,000 in cash.

Members of the organizing Committee Orlando Harrison, Luis Garcia and
Hugh
O'Brien met on Wednesday to formulate and discuss matters of the race
and
named The Reporter Newspaper as the official newspaper covering the La
Ruta
Maya Challenge.

Mr. Orlando Harrison said "although the race needs to generate a level
of
economic activity to keep it going, we must not forget that one of our
primary concerns is the protection and promotion of the river and its
need
for environmental protection.

"The race has grown each year in keeping with the economics of the
challenge. The first year the grand prize was $7,500, the second -
$15,000, the third - $30,000 and this year we are targeting $60,000,
which
I am sure we can meet.
"We have also yearly increased the standards in our supplies and medical
support to the participants. We have seen the investment of sizable
amounts
of money into the race, in the hopes of walking away with the honour of
being the winner. Chaa Creek has invested some ten thousand dollars in
the
construction of their canoe. Another team has acquired the service of a
Canadian company to construct theirs.

But with all this going on, we must not dismiss the fact that the race
was
designed with the underlying message of the promotion and the aid of the
environmental protection of the river. And this year Mr. Luis Garcia and
Mr. Bruce Stratton from the Belize Community Service Alliance and the
River
Keepers International will be playing their usual important role in
keeping
with our goals."

Mr. Garcia said, "there is so much that needs to be done to
environmentally
protect the river that we have a challenge on our own. But with the help
of
the River Keepers association, we are geared for it.

"We will be conducting research of the river water quality and its water
level at several points, which will be forwarded for testing and the
results documented and released as it is forthcoming," Garcia said. "An
annual record of all this data will be kept for future reference and
will
also help us each year in promoting mitigation that needs to be
implemented.
"The river has been a great resource and a great economic contributor
for
many years, and we must protect it. We will be carrying out our annual
tree
planting along the route of trees to aid in the fight against unnatural
erosion. We will also be formatting the river banks and planting bamboo
shoots which we believe to be one of the better solutions against
erosion
at points where the trees are not. We pledge our full support in
conducting the environmental aspect in accordance with the La Ruta Maya
River Challenge."

The trees are being donated by Mr. Ismael Garcia through Minister Daniel
Silva and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The public is invited to help to choose a theme for this year's river
challenge. Persons wishing to help may contact Mr. Orlando Harrison at
by
telephone at 092-2444 or 2646 or by e-mail : bighjiuces@btl.com. The
person with the best suggestion will be given a case of Big H coconut
water
and a case of their choice of any other Big H products. The public is
also
invited to view the La Ruta Maya web site at www.bighjuices.com