Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve to officially open August 23

Weather permitting, the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve is scheduled to be officially opened this morning at 9:50 a.m. Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Eduardo Juan and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Russell Garcia along with invited guests Ambassador Victor Solano of Mexico, European Union's Representative Mr. Jose Morgado, and the Bacalar Chico Advisory Committee were scheduled to leave Belize City by boat at 8:00 a.m., arrive in San Pedro to be joined by members of the Town Board and the local media and proceed north to arrive at Bacalar Chico Headquarters for the opening ceremonies.

The opening programme will include a tour of the newly constructed headquarters and grounds, a trip to the reef and to Chac-balam ruins.

Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine/Wildlife Reserve is a joint effort of many agencies. The park encompasses a 60 square mile area and is bounded in the north by the Belize-Mexico border and the channel dug by the Mayans about 1500 years ago. The southern boundary is marked by the point from San Juan (on the western lagoon side) and a part of Chetumal Bay to Robles Point (on the eastern side) and a little beyond the reef. Corozal Town, Ambergris Caye and the village of Sarteneja are geographically linked in the new reserve. This extraordinary area where the reef at Rocky Point touches the land is a nesting site for the green sea turtle and the loggerhead turtle; the offshore marine habitat was once known as a breeding area for the queen conch and a seasonal spawning bank for the nassau and yellowfin grouper. It has a high diversity of terrestrial and vegetation zones and several threatened species inhabit the area. The goal of this project is to conserve these resources, possibly repopulate the declining fish stock and to protect marine life and wildlife by deterring illegal fishing and hunting. The new National Park will provide many eco-touristic benefits. It includes an area for snorkeling, seven Mayan sites of which only one has been excavated, a refuge for endangered species such as the puma and jaguar, and an opportunity for visitors and locals to enjoy the abundance of flora and fauna. Tour guides in the three communities involved have endorsed the project and have commended government for having the vision to set aside this area prior to the development of North Ambergris Caye.

San Pedro Sun

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San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News