Caribbean National Forest

History
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"Forest conservation bespeaks of a people's wisdom"

1824 First Puerto Rican forest conservation law.

1839 Spain establishes Public Forestry Commissions and the first comprehensive forest law.

1860 First Spanish public forestry appropriation for Puerto Rico.

1876 Spain proclaims El Yunque a Forest Reserve, making it one of the oldest reserves in the Western Hemisphere.

1898 Crown lands of Puerto Rico passed from Spain to the United States.

1903 US officially designates Luquillo Forest Reserve the only tropical rain forest in the National Forest System.

1905 USDA Bureau of Forestry published the report "Luquillo Forest Reserve Puerto Rico." This was the first detailed report about the Forest and its resources.

1907 The Luquillo Forest Reserve was renamed Luquillo National Forest.

1916 The first boundary survey indicates Luquillo National Forest is 12,443 acres.

1917 First supervisor of Luquillo National Forest appointed. Puerto Rico Forest Service was created within the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture and Labor and placed under federal forest supervisor.

1920 Beginning of large-scale program of trial plantings with exotic and native species throughout Puerto Rico. First tree nursery, established in Puerto Rico.

1926 Construction of initial portions of Road 191, the main access to the Forest, began.

1931 First forest plantations (mahogany) established within the Luquillo National Forest.

1933 Emergency Conservation Program began, with Civilian Conservation Corps program that followed in 1937. Accomplished extensive work in reforestation, forest road construction and recreational and administrative improvements within both Federal and State Forest. Most of the present El Yunque Recreation Area constructed at this time.

1934 Forest Service begins major reforestation program within public forest. In the next 12 years over 18,000 acres planted with 53 tree species, 28 of which were native.

1935 The Luquillo National Forest was renamed Caribbean National Forest to accommodate the Toro Negro Purchase Unit in Central Puerto Rico. The US Forest Service subsequently purchased 1,900 acres in the Toro Negro Area.

1937 First systematic inventory of the timber resource of the Forest completed.

1939 Tropical Forest Experiment Station, now International Institute of Tropical Forestry, was established, making this one of the best studied tropical forests in the world. First of 24 volumes of the Caribbean Forester published.

Scientific testing of site adaptability program began. Since then more than 100 native and 350 introduced tree species have been tested.

1943 The Forest and Tropical Forest Experiment Station consolidated as a Tropical Forestry Unit.

Timber sale program greatly accelerated for wartime charcoal production for fuel.

1946 The Forest designated an insular wildlife refuge.

1949 First multiple use and timber management plan for the Forest completed.

Secretary of Agriculture designated 2,172 acres of the Forest as the Bano de Oro Research Natural Area.

1953 Puerto Rico Forest Service separated from USDA Forest Service.

First of 16 international tropical forestry short courses held at the Institute of Tropical Forestry.

1956 Forest administratively designated as the Luquillo Experimental Forest, recognizing the growing importance of research in this forest.

Land Use Plan for the Luquillo Experimental Forest completed.

1968 Formal research efforts to save the endangered Puerto Rican parrot began in the Forest with collaboration of US Fish and Wildlife, the PR Department of Natural Resources and the World Wildlife Fund.

Revised Timber Management Plan for the Luquillo Experimental Forest approved and rewritten to conform to the 1956 Land Use Plan.

1970 Landslides closed parts of Road 191 and prevented southern access to the forest.

1974 Intensive "mahogany line plantation" reforestation program began.

1976 Forest designated part of the international network of Biosphere Reserves.

Catalina tree nursery established under Forest Service management to provide seedlings for the Forest reforestation program.

1977 First Silviculture Examination and Prescription completed on the forest.

1981 Puerto Rico Telephone Company Communication Tower construction completed on El Yunque Peak.

1982 Field Office moved from Sabana to newly constructed Catalina Office. New Forest organization created.

1988 El Portal Visitor Center planning initiated.

1989 Hurricane Hugo causes major damage to Forest, Catalina Work Center and Recreation Area.

1992 International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF) was established, enhancing international cooperation and collaboration.

1996 El Portal Tropical Forest Center opens, continuing a tradition of education, outreach and public service.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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