U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Laguna Cartagena
National Wildlife Refuge


An important freshwater habitat for migrating waterfowl and aquatic birds in Puerto Rico.
PO Box 510
Boquerón, PR   00622
E-mail: caribbeanisland@fws.gov
Phone Number: 787-851-7258
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
http://www.fws.gov/caribbean/Refuges/Lagunacartegena/default.htm
An important freshwater habitat for migrating waterfowl and aquatic birds in Puerto Rico.
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  Overview
Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge
Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge The present lagoon is a remnant of what was once a large open expanse of water and one of the most important freshwater habitats for migratin waterfowl and aquatic birds in Puerto Rico. Due to agricultural practices, about 90 percent of the lagoon is covered with cattail. Intensive cattle grazing and sugar cane production have greatly altered the original landscape.

In addition to the lagoon, there are uplands that include pastureland, abandoned sugar cane fields, and 263 acres in the foothills of the Sierra Bermeja. These hills, geologically the oldest in the Caribbean, protect native forest with many endemic plant species. The area is a stopover for neotropical migrants and several species of waterbirds. The endangered yellow-shouldered blackbird and peregrine falcon have been reported on the refuge.


Getting There . . .
From Cabo Rojo drive on Route 100 until the end, then turn left onto Route 101. At kilometer 12.2 on Route 101 turn right onto Hacienda Desengaño. A pedestrian gate on the left side will provide the easiest entry.


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Wildlife and Habitat

Almost have of the birds in the island have bee seen in the area such as; Smooth-billed Anis, Magnificent Frigatebird, several species of herons, the endangered Yellow-shouldered Blackbird and others.Prior to becoming a refuge, the area was open to waterfowl hunting. At the present, the refuge does not have sifficient numbers of birds to justify a hunt.

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History
The lagoon and adjacent agricultural properties were leased from the Puerto Rico Land Administration in 1989 to rehabilitate the lagoon for resident and migratory water birds. In 1996 a parcel of land in the adjacent Sierra Bermeja was added, thus bringing the total area to 1,036 acres. Historically, almost half of the birds recorded in Puerto Rico have been observed in the lagoon and the adjacent hills.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
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Management Activities
The lands surrounding the lagoon are being managed to convert agricultural and grazing lands to a forested area for native birds. Limited grazing is being used as an intermediate management tool to reduce buildup of grass fuel loads, and to open grass areas to facilitate woody vegetation regeneration. Through water management the lagoon will be opened for aquatic birds. Other management tools used are education/interpretation, forestry, law enforcement and plant control. These challenging management programs will take time to accomplish but its result will improve habitat for native widlife.