Photo: El Yunque
El Yunque National Rainforest in eastern Puerto Rico was partly reopened Saturday after remaining closed for a week while authorities had several areas cleaned up that were damaged by the torrential rains that fell there, cutting off highways and unleashing mudslides.
The areas that the forest administration decided to reopen, according to its press release, were La Coca Falls, a favorite of tourists, and the Angelito Trail, as well as the El Portal Visitors Center, the only place that wasn’t closed by the rains.
El Yunque’s hours for now will be from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the parts reopened. The remaining recreational areas will be kept closed until further notice.
Park management also said that Highway 191, the chief thoroughfare for entering the tropical rainforest, has been limited to a single lane for compact cars.
El Yunque welcomes an average of some 1.4 million visits a year.
Due to mudslides and the highway being cut off, El Yunque’s administration has asked the governor of the U.S. commonwealth, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, to declare the rainforest a disaster zone because of the estimated $6 million in damages.
El Yunque, where 50 different species of native orchids grow along with trees up to 1,000 years old and 150 species of ferns, was declared Puerto Rico’s first International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.