Centennial Timeline Summary

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c. 1000

This thousand-year-old large stone celt (prehistoric axe) found in the lower forest was probably being used by a Taíno Indian to fell a tree, possibly to fashion a canoe or use as a house post. In addition to exploiting this lower Tabonuco Forest Type for its wood, the Taíno Indians and their predecessors visited the rain forest to cut vines and palm fronds which they used to make baskets and roofing thatch, to collect fruits and roots, and to gather medicinal plants.
Found close-by on private forest by Ronald Garrison Robertson.

c. 1500

This Spanish olive jar was made between 1490 and 1570, the time of initial European exploration and colonization of the Americas. In this jar a Spaniard exploring the mountains, may have carried food, or possibly mercury to process and validate the gold he hoped to find.
Found by Dr. John Thomlinson of the Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies, University of Puerto Rico, while conducting research in the Cloud Forest Type.


Christopher Columbus and crew become the first Europeans to set foot in Puerto Rico during his second voyage of discovery.


Escaped Taíno slaves who are opposed to outsiders invading the forest destroy Santiago de Daguao, a settlement near present day Naguabo founded by Christopher Columbus’ son Diego, to exploit gold in the nearby rivers.


Farmer Cristóbal de Guzmán is killed by Taíno Indians, who also destroy his farm on the banks of the Mameyes river, in opposition to settlement of that forested area.


Taíno Indians still surviving in the Luquillo Mountains delay deforestation of the valleys of the Espíritu Santo, Fajardo, Sabana and Río Grande rivers.


During this time period, four separate explorers describe the island of Puerto Rico as entirely covered by forest, especially in the uplands including the Luquillo forest.


The Spanish Crown grants Luis Balboa Bertone, a French privateer, four “leguas” of land in the Luquillo Mountains (about 76 square km or 48 square miles). Balboa helped Spain capture the Balearic Islands, for which the King awarded him with the title “Duque de Mahon-Crillon”. Bilbao retains the land until 1829, but part of Naguabo keeps the name “El Duque” to modern times.


The “Cedula de Gracia” cedes Crown lands to the public for agricultural purposes. Each grant of 200 “cuerdas” (roughly 80 hectares/198 acres) mandates that trees be planted on the boundaries. Some of these plots are on the Luquillo forest.


Puerto Rico’s Governor Brigadier Salvador Meléndez Bruna limits cutting of wood for use in Spanish ship and building construction.


Alarmed by the extent of deforestation caused by government-sponsored farms, Governor Lieutenant General Don Miguel de la Torre issues, the island’s first conservation law, Circular No. 493. The law requires the planting of trees in order to stem harm to watersheds.


Timber is reported abundant in the Luquillo Mountains.


Manuel Martínez Zercenán develops a Silver and Gold mine claim on the La Mina River.


A Spanish Crown forest regulation is promulgated within Puerto Rico that requires permission from the government to cut down trees in vacant crown land, prohibits clear cutting and calls for preservation of riparian (river valley) forests and the construction of a Forest Headquarters.


A regulation by the Board for the Protection of Forests, Fish and Wildlife requires appointment of Forest Guards, prohibits burning of lands conceded by the Crown, and requires planting of trees on the borders of Crown lands, with reversion of such lands to the Crown if found in violation.


By Royal Decree, two Spanish foresters are to survey, mark and manage Crown forests including the Luquillo Forest.


An appropriation of Puerto Rican governmental funds for forest management was first approved. This appropriation appears in the public record in varying amounts until 1870, when due to lack of funds, the position of Forest Engineer is eliminated.


American naturalist E.C. Taylor describes the Puerto Rican Parrot as “abundant in the eastern lowlands of the island.”


Copper mining along the south border of the Luquillo mountains begins, but is abandoned in 1899 due to hurricane damage.


First island-wide forest inventory performed by “Ingenieros de Montes” for the “Cuerpo de Montes” staffed by graduates of the Spanish Crown forestry school.


Forest Engineer Juan Fernández Ledón publishes a forest inventory that covers 18, 682 hectares Exotic Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus globulus) are introduced from Australia into Puerto Rico by the “Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País” (Economics Society of Friends of the Country).


Rafael de León, Mayor of Ponce, issues a circular describing the urgent need to conserve Puerto Rico’s forests to avoid ruining the island’s agriculture.
A total of 9700 hectares (23, 969 acres) of heavily timbered forest remain in the Luquillo forest.


Governor José Laureano Sanz publishes a decree that serves to regulate the utilization of the forests of Puerto Rico, declaring lands non-conceded and conceded without compliance by the Crown as public forest, as well as prohibiting the burning-off of trees on private lands without a permit.
The Ponce Agricultural Society imports forest tree seeds of various species to be used to plant forests thus improving the climate of the island.


Spanish King Alphonso XII proclaims the Luquillo Forest a reserve of 10, 000 hectares (24, 710 acres) with soil and water conservation and timber removal regulated and enforced by the “Inspección de Montes” (Spanish Forest Service), making it one of the oldest forest reserves in the Western hemisphere.
The newly formed “Inspección de Montes” submits a plan to regulate forest use on the island.
The coastal mangrove forests are placed under the supervision of the “Inspección de Montes.”


Illicit timber extraction is eliminated in the Mameyes and Jiménez river valleys of the Luquillo Mountains.


The 12,000 hectare (29, 652 acre) Luquillo Forest Reserve is patrolled by one part-time guard, who in one year, presents a dozen trespass cases before the Mayor of Luquillo.


A water law is enacted that prohibits the cutting of trees in the sources and margins of rivers on the island.


Crown forest timber prices are established by public auction, and trees are sold “on the stump” marked previously by a government forester.


A permit from the “Cuerpo de Montes de la Inspección de Montes” is required to extract timber from Crown Lands in the Luquillo Mountains.


Arbor Day is celebrated for the first time in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


As part of the settlement of the Spanish-American War, the Treaty of Paris, cedes control of Puerto Rico to the United States. The settlement includes approximately 127, 000 hectares (313, 822 acres) of forested land.
Forested land remaining in the Luquillo mountains is estimated at 2, 070 hectares (5, 116 acres).


Hurricane San Ciriaco causes great damage to Puerto Rico. The hurricane causes minimal tree loss in the Luquillo Forest.


President Theodore Roosevelt proclaims the Luquillo Forest Reserve under the authority of a 1902 Act of Congress, which allows him to reserve public “Crown Lands”, ceded to the United States by Spain in 1898, to form this public forest reservation.
The Sabana river valley in the new Luquillo Forest Reserve was seen to be heavily timbered, a testimony to the former forest authority’s conservation efforts.


USDA Bureau of Forestry publishes the report “Luquillo Forest Reserve, Porto Rico”, the first detailed report about the forest and its resources.
Landowners adjacent to the LFR report trespassing to obtain timber illegally.
An infrequently used trail crosses the forest via El Yunque Peak from North to South.


Luquillo Forest Reserve is renamed the Luquillo National Forest.
Due to its unique location in the Caribbean, the LNF thus becomes the single tropical rain forest in the USDA National Forest System.


Illegal trails used for unlawful timber extraction appear in El Verde and Jimenez valleys of LNF.
The LNF proclamation boundaries are located and marked with concrete markers by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey.
Timber extraction trails exist from the town of Mameyes to the LNF forest edge and on into the forest watershed areas.


The Puerto Rico Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor requests the Chief Forester of the US Forest Service for permission to hire guards to prevent trespassing by charcoal cutters in the Luquillo Forest Reserve.


A representative from the USDA Forest Service travels to Puerto Rico to study local forests and finds “property ownership in the Luquillo mountains in chaos”. He recommends releasing the LNF to the Insular government. Governor George B. Colton responds that PR needs Forest Service assistance and that withdrawal would be “exceedingly regretted.”
The Puerto Rico government prevails in their effort to persuade the Forest Service to study the Luquillo Forest Reserve area and agrees to survey the land for the Forest Service.


Local officials make repeated requests to the Forest Service to appoint guards to control trespassers in the LNF.


Under the auspices of the New York Academy of Sciences, the New York Botanical Society, the University of Puerto Rico Experimental Station and the Puerto Rican Legislature, botanist Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife, bryologist (a botanist specializing in mosses and lichens) Elizabeth Knight Britton begin compilation of a “Scientific Survey of Porto Rico”, a survey of the physical and natural history of the island focusing on its geology, zoology, botany, culture and broader natural science fields. The 19 volume product of this survey stands as one of the most complete descriptions of the natural history of any tropical area in the world.
Alexander Wetmore finds small parrot populations in the Mameyes River valley and Luquillo Mountains.


Gabriel Mitchell, the first native Puerto Rican Forester is appointed.


Deforestation is reported to an elevation of 548 meters (1, 797 acres) on the Southern slopes of the Luquillo Mountains.


USDA Bulletin No. 354; “Forests of Porto Rico, Past, Present and Future and their Physical and Economic Environment” by Forest Examiner Louis S. Murphy is published.
First forest boundary survey by Puerto Rican Government Engineers indicates that the former Crown lands now the Luquillo National Forest comprise 5, 035 hectares (12, 441 acres).
The Puerto Rico Government donates 575 hectares (1, 420 acres) of land, adjacent to the forest to the LNF.


Emory M. Bruner, the first Forest Supervisor of the Luquillo Forest Reserve and Chief Forester of Puerto Rico, drafts the first Forest law to be implemented since the Spanish administration.
The Puerto Rican Legislature establishes an Insular Forest Service and provides for the reservation of Insular Forests from Crown lands.
Governor Arthur Yager issues a proclamation setting aside 6,000 hectares (14, 826 acres) of coastal mangrove forests as forest reserves.


First Forest Guards, Bartolo Peraza and Bienvenido Gerena, are appointed to the LNF; enforcing violations of forest grazing laws, they walk trespassing cattle to local jails where they are kept until reclaimed by their owners and fines are paid.
Agricultural activity is reported up to 548 meters (1, 798 feet) on the southern slope of the LNF.


In order to effectively patrol the boundaries of the forest on horseback, beginning in 1919, the forest guards build 61 kilometers (38 miles) of trails.
The Governor of Puerto Rico issues a proclamation setting aside the former Crown lands of Guanica, Maricao and Mona Island to be Insular Forests.
Forest Supervisor Emory M. Bruner publishes the first description of the four forest types (tabonuco, sierra palm, colorado, elfin) by the LNF.


A Large-scale program involving trial planting of exotic and native plants begins in
Puerto Rico.
The First tree nursery is established, funded by the Puerto Rican Legislature and operated by the University of Puerto Rico.
A site is made available to house the headquarters of the Federal and Insular Forest Services on the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras campus.
The first sawmill serving the National Forest is established in the Sabana valley.


William P. Kramer succeeds Emory M. Bruner as Forest Supervisor, LNF and Chief Forester of Puerto Rico.
About 4, 000 hectares (9, 880 acres) of the 8,000 hectares (19, 768 acres) of forested land in the Luquillo Mountains are privately owned.
A horse trail to El Yunque Peak is constructed.


The USDA Forest Service begins support of local tree production under the
Clarke-McNary Act.
“ Ley 9 del 1925 de Puerto Rico” provides tax relief for forests existing on private lands.


Construction of initial portions of PR road 191, which will ultimately provide convenient access to the forest, begins.
The USDA Forest Service “State and Private Forestry Program” begins in Puerto Rico.


Forest tree nurseries are established in San Germán and Utuado by municipal governments for farm tree planting.


Hurricane San Felipe causes massive destruction on the island.
Timber from the forest is provided to the public to reconstruct under Free Use Provision Act.


Thomas R. Barbour succeeds William P. Kramer as Forest Supervisor and Chief Forester.
First Mahogany plantations are established within the Luquillo National Forest.
The USDA Forest Service first authorizes the sale of timber from the LNF, although actual sales do not begin until a year later.
Beginning in 1931 through 1939, L.R. Holdrige of the LNF planting staff, builds-up an herbarium that represented two thirds of the trees of Puerto Rico and which eventually becomes part of the collections of the University of Puerto Rico Botanical Gardens.
The total Puerto Rican Parrot population is estimated at approximately 2000 birds.


First National Forest Policy Statement for Luquillo National Forest is published.
Acquisition of 20, 234 hectares (50, 000 acres) of forest, for the purpose of research, silviculture and reforestation is proposed.
Two overnight cabins are constructed on the north and south sides of the forest to facilitate guard patrols.
Beginning in 1932 and continuing for 17 years, 292, 966 cubic meters (961, 174 cubed feet) of wood is sold from the LNF, 83% of which is fuelwood.
Hurricane San Ciprián causes heavy damage to island.


Congress enacts the Federal Emergency Conservation Program.
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) programs begin in the Luquillo National Forest, under Forest Supervisor, William H. Barbour’s control. Projects include “building a road through the cliffs and jungles of the Luquillo Mountains”, reforestation, recreational and administrative improvements. Most of the present-day El Yunque recreation area is constructed at this time.
Hurricane San Ciriaco causes extensive damage to Puerto Rico coffee plantations.
Beginning in 1933 and continuing through 1949, 505 hectares (1, 247 acres) of land are acquired and added to the LNF.
The mineral resources of the Luquillo mountains are described in a book by Puerto Rican geologist Rafael Picó.


Major reforestation program begins within public forests. Over the next 12 years, over 7000 hectares (17, 297 acres) are planted, with 53 species of trees, 26 of which are native.
In order to increase the original LFR proclamation area, 3000 hectares (7, 400 acres) to the east of the forest are acquired.


Additional land surrounding the forest is purchased under the administration of Forest Supervisor and Chief Forester E Worth Hadley, who succeeds Thomas R. Barbour.
The Luquillo National Forest is renamed El Yunque National Forest.
The CCC employs 2,600 local laborers to engage in forest work throughout the island. In the EYNF during the ensuing decade, CCC workers accomplish the construction of 105 kilometers (65 miles) of roads, 80 kilometers (50 miles) of trails, the building of towers on Mt. Britton and El Yunque, the building of two picnic areas, cabins, a fish hatchery, two swimming pools and a restauarant!
The La Mina Recreation Area is opened.
Beginning in 1935 thuough 1945, 1, 589 hectares (3, 926 acres) in the Luquillo forest are reforested.
Construction of major recreational trails in the EYNF begins.
Silvicultural stand improvement begins in the El Verde section of the forest.


The local Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration voluntarily establishes a forestry division that acquires 6, 800 hectares (16, 800 acres) for five insular forests. This governmental unit, comprising professionals and rural laborers, established plantations and constructed roads, trails, recreation areas and administration facilities in these insular forests.


The University of Puerto Rico’s Agriculural Extension Service, Extension Forester is instrumental in the distribution of 60 million trees to island farmers.


First systematic inventory of 6, 879 hectares (16, 998 acres) of the El Yunque National Forest’s timber resources is completed.
A USDA Forest Service sawmill is established at Sabana in the EYNF. Over a six-year period it cuts native tabunoco timber used in the construction of houses for permitees living in the Sabana and Mameyes valleys in the EYNF.


In the first application of silviculture in the EYNF, poor trees and vines are eliminated and desirable saplings are liberated in a 55 hectare plot.
Timber trees were planted along with their food crops by 700 Puerto Rican “Parcelero” families living in the public forests.
The first five study plots are established in the EYNF and they are later re-measured by forest technicians.


A USDA Forest Service Tropical Forest Experimental Station is established on 2 hectares (5 acres) of land on the University of Puerto Rico campus in Río Piedras, given rent-free for 50 years by the University.
Arthur Bevan is named the Tropical Forest Experimental Station’s first director.
The first of 24 volumes of “The Caribbean Forester” is published.
Scientific testing of the Site Adaptability Program begins, testing over 100 native and 350 introduced species over the ensuing years.


The Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration completes the El Verde Field Station, a research base within the EYNF.


The Mameyes- Río Blanco Forest Highway (PR-191), that bisects the EYNF, serving the forest’s recreation area is completed after 16 years of construction.


The El Yunque National Forest and the Tropical Forest Experimental Station are consolidated as the Tropical Forest Unit with Arthur Upson as Director.
Long-term research in the EYNF El Verde section plots begins.
Research on silviculture of natural forests begins in the EYNF, conducted by the Tropical Forest Experimental Station. This research represents the first information on the structure and composition of the forest. Three permanent natural forest growth plots are established at El Verde. This effort continued and reached a total of 554 plots by 1956.
Wartime greatly accelerates the timber sales program required for charcoal fuel production at all public forests.
Estimates show that less than one percent of Puerto Rico is virgin forest.
The US Forest Service authorizes construction of a paved road to El Yunque peak to be built by the US Army to provide access to a wartime observation post.
The Land Authority of Puerto Rico concedes 267 hectares (659 acres) of limestone forest which becomes the Cambalache Experimental Forest. This effort was supported by a single forest guard who served the fuelwood needs of 240 nearby families during the first years of his employment.


The EYNF sells 992,428 board meters (3, 255, 997 board feet) of timber, much of which is made into charcoal by local “Carboneros”. Trees removed for sale are pre-marked by local forest officers leaving more promising immature trees to survive for the future.


The EYNF records 1,750 timber sales. This represents more than ten percent of the total for the entire National Forest System for the year. Tree marking and supervision was provided by four Forest Officers José Reyes Mateo, Luis Carrión, Raúl Ybarra Coronado and Ramiro Agosto Ruíz.
The book “Forest Insects of Puerto Rico” written by entomologist Luis F. Martorell, is published.
The Insular Forest Service initiates a Watershed Protection Project planting stands of exotic bamboo on the periphery of major reservoirs.


The El Yunque National Forest is designated an Insular Wildlife Refuge by the US Department of Agriculture and Commerce.
Beginning in 1946 and continuing through 1947 the public forests of the island are inventoried by the Insular Forest Service.
Large-scale placer mining of gold on the Mameyes river in the EYNF is abandoned.
A systematic inventory of the EYNF begins and is accomplished through strip sampling by local crews.


The Insular Forest Service publishes a “Forest Nursery Manual” by agronomist Jose A. Gilormini.


The USDA Forest Service publishes a Technical Assessment of the planting of 4 million trees and 22 tons of seeds of 34 tree species in the EYNF over an 11 year period starting in 1934, by forester Jose Marrero.
The 4.5 hectare (11 acre) Elizabeth Colberg Girl Scout camp is established in the El Verde sector of the EYNF.
The Tropical Forest Experimental Station Tree Herbarium accrues a total of 3,000 specimens, obtained locally.


The Secretary of Agriculture designates 852 hectares (2, 105 acres) of the Mameyes valley in the EYNF as the “Baño de Oro Research Natural Area”.
First “forest type” maps are produced from aerial reconnaissance photography.
Studies show 2, 266 hectares (5, 600 acres) in the EYNF are still unaffected by human activities.
A “Multiple use and Timber Management Plan” for the EYNF calling for uplands preservation, parrot habitat, and watershed conservation is completed by Frank Wadsworth of the Tropical Forest Unit.
The Luquillo Forest’s second timber cruise of 4, 548 hectares (11, 238 acre) is accomplished.
A total of 3, 460 hectares (8, 550 acres) have reforested naturally due to protection.
Timber removed from the El Yunque National Forest since authorization in 1931 totals over 283, 168 cubic meters, all purchased and extracted under local permit.
Development of the El Yunque Peak Electronic Communication Center for the island is initiated.


Beginning in 1950, and continuing through 1955, A National Forest Management Plan implemented
for timber production with scheduled harvesting and silvicultural treatment of 150 hectares (370 acres) on apparently sustainable cutting cycles.
USDA Forest Service in Washington, DC awards Forest Ranger Emilio Solis for “harmoniously” relocating 125 “Parcelero” famiies onto better land outside the EYNF.
The Puerto Rico Forest Nursery is established in the EYNF producing millions of trees for reforesting public and private lands on the island.
The Puerto Rican Government agreed to an expansion of the EYNF proclamation area to permit more forest land acquisition.


Arthur Upson is succeeded by Henry B. Bosworth as Director of what has become the Tropical Region.


The Puerto Rico Forest Service separates from the USDA Forest Service and becomes the Forests, Fisheries and Wildlife section of the Department of Agriculture and Commerce. Agronomist Miguel Hernández Agósto is appointed as its first Director.
First of 16 International Tropical Forestry “short” courses” held at the Tropical Forestry Unit.
Irvin Pat Murray succeeds Henry B. Bosworth as Supervisor of the El Yunque National Forest.
Frank Wadsworth serves as Project Leader of Research.


The El Yunque National Forest is additionally designated the “Luquillo Experimental Forest” to recognize the growing importance of research.
A Land Use Plan for the EYNF/LEF is completed.
Frank Wadsworth succeeds Irvin Pat Murray as Director of the Institute of Tropical Forestry (previously the Tropical Forest Unit) and Supervisor of the EYNF/LEF.
Agronomist Don Antonio Rodríguez -Vidal estimates Puerto Rican Parrot population in the EYNF/LEF at 200.


An Arboretum of more than 100 tropical tree species is established in the EYNF/LEF.
UPR scientists from the Puerto Rico Nuclear Research Center test the effects of gamma radiation on tropical forests in the El Verde sector of the EYNF. These tests were accomplished to provide scientific evaluation of whether nuclear energy should be used to carve-out a proposed inter-ocean waterway through Central America, to replace the Panama Canal.


Forester Juan Munoz publishes a timber management plan for the EYNF/LEF which determines the available timber volume and projected sustainable silvicultural harvest.


Larry Hill is appointed Project Leader to administer the LEF.
Line planting of 1, 274 hectares (3, 148 acres) of mahogany in the forest begins.
Construction of the Yokahú Observation Tower is completed and it is opened to the public.
Juan A. Rivero discovers Elutherodactylus hedricki, a new species of “Coqui”tree frog, in the EYNF/LEF.
The White-Necked Crow Corvus leucoganphallus is last seen in EYNF/LEF.
The Parrot population in the wild is estimated at 120 individual birds.


Elbert L. Little, Jr. and Frank H. Wadsworth’s book “Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands” is published, It contains over 200 drawings of tree species by island artists.


Formal research efforts to save the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot begun by the USDA Forest Service in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the World Wildlife Fund.
A revised Timber Management Plan for the EYNF/LEF is approved after being re-written to conform to the 1956 Land Use Plan.
A one hectare (2.5 acre) forest stand in the Jiménez sector of the EYNF/LEF is used to test tropical forest canopy defoliants as part of an island-wide study to develop defoliants for use by the military in the Vietnam War.
Puerto Rican Parrot population declines to 70 individuals. Amazona vittata is listed as an endangered species in the Federal Register.


Highway 191 through the forest is closed due to a major landslide. The highway remains closed because rebuilding plans are hampered by the existence of unstable sandy soils.
The USDA Forest Service and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture (Natural Resources Division) exchange lands around the EYNF/LEF for the Toro Negro Forest.
"A Tropical Rainforest" based on ecological studies begun during the early 1960s under the leadership of Howard T. Odum is published. It includes 111 research papers totaling 1,645 pages.


The Elfin Woods Warbler (Dendroica angelae), a previously undiscovered bird endemic to Puerto Rico, was discovered to exist at high elevation in the EYNF/LEF.


A tally of Puerto Rican parrots in the Luquillo Experimental Forest reveals only 13 individuals remain in the wild.
A summary of the results of fence post longevity based on four preservatives and two treatments for 6,700 treated and non-treated posts, representing 70 tree species is published.
A summary of growth studies for 15 conifers and 16 hardwood species for use in 60,000 hectares (148, 263 acres) of Puerto Rico's granitic uplands is published.
Princeton Doctoral student John Faarborg begins tagging migratory birds in the Guanica Forest in what was to become the longest data set on migratory birds in the tropics.


L.A. (Andy) Lindquist is appointed interim Supervisor of the EYNF/LEF.
The administration of Commonwealth of Puerto Rico forests is transferred from the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture to the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources.
A map and text on the ecological life zones of Puerto Rico is published.


Juan Muñoz is appointed Forest Supervisor of the EYNF/LEF after it is administratively separated from the Institute of Tropical Forestry.
Mahogany reforestation efforts are intensified in secondary brush lands on the lower slopes of the Luquillo Mountains.
An environmental analysis and management plan for the proposed El Yunque peak electronic site is prepared and implemented.


The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico passes a new forest law for the island, based on contributions by EYNF supervisor Juan Muñoz.
Tropical Storm Eloise destroys landslide repairs in progress on PR 191.


The Luquillo Experimental Forest is designated a part of the United Nations International Network of Biosphere Reserves.
The USDA Forest Service establishes tree nursery to provide seedlings for a re-forestation program.
Numerous papers based on long-term monitoring of permanent plots in the tabonuco, colorado, elfin, and palm forests which include studies of forest structure, dynamics, and the impacts and response to hurricanes are begun and continue to the present.
The Youth Conservation Corps program (YCC) begins on the EYNF/LEF.


The first silviculture examination and prescription of the El Yunque National Forest is completed.
The Institute of Tropical Forestry is transferred from the Office of the Chief of the USDA Forest Service to the Southern Forest Experiment Station (New Orleans) as the Tropical America Forest Research Work Unit.


Involvement in urban forestry begins with the publishing of a bulletin in English and Spanish on the use of 46 tree species in urban settings for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Frank W. Wadsworth is succeeded by Ariel E. Lugo as Director of what soon would become the International Institute of Tropical Forestry.
Beginning in 1979 and continuing for seven years over 4000 hectares (9, 800 acres) of forest are systematically sampled and analyzed for silvicultural conditions. to include the determination of the tree size, age class, and species.


The island-wide inventory of secondary forests on timberlands is initiated.
The Institute of Tropical Forestry Analytical Research Laboratory is established.
The IITF hosts and international symposium on the role of tropical forests in the worlds carbon cycle.


Construction of the Puerto Rico Telephone Company communication tower is completed on El Yunque Peak in the EYNF.
Editing and production of the quarterly newsletter of the International Society of Tropical Forestry begins. This publication reaches more than 2,000 recipients in 128 countries.


The EYNF/LEF Field Office is moved from Sabana to the newly constructed Catalina work center. Biennial Caribbean Foresters Meetings are initiated.
Information on the storage and production of organic matter in tropical forests and their role in the carbon cycle is published by the IITF.


The USDA Forest Service initiates collaborative research with the USDI Park Service on the Cinnamon Bay watershed, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, resulting in the publishing of papers on species occurrence, dynamics, and hurricane impacts.


A volume describing 150 vine species that grow in Puerto Rico is published.


Bernie Ríos is appointed Forest Supervisor of the EYNF/LEF.
The Institute of Tropical Forestry begins long-term collaborative research with high schools located in Utuado and Barranquitas. Eventually the program will expand to include a total of six schools.
The El Yunque Ranger District is established and lasts until it is terminated ten years later.
The forest plan for the EYNF/LEF is approved by the Regional Forester; this plan was appealed by 12 environmental/recreational organizations and on November 19th, thousands marched on the EYNF/LEF to protest the proposed cutting of trees. The process of amendments, revisions and public involvement continued through 1997 when the Revised Land and Resource Management Plan was finally approved.


A comprehensive study of the dynamics, structure and composition of the Colorado Forest Type in the Luquillo Mountains is begun by the IITF.
Watershed research begins in the Bisley sector of the EYNF/LEF.
The publication of “Acta Científica”, a scientific journal for Puerto Rican science teachers begins.
“ The Parrots of Luquillo”, a 20 year history of parrot research in the Luquillo Forest is published.
A technical guide for the nursery management of the Caribbean pine is published.


A Big Tree Registry, recording the largest trees by species throughout the islan, to increase local appreciation for forest resources begins.
The Long Term Ecological Research Program begins in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico.


Jose Salinas is appointed forest supervisor of the EYNF/LEF
Hurricane Hugo causes major damage to the island of Puerto Rico, and EYNF/LEF facilities, including the Catalina Work Center and the forest’s recreational areas. As a result of the hurricane population of the Puerto Rican Parrot drops to a low of 30 individuals in the wild.
Hurricane recovery efforts result in watershed restoration efforts involving over 120 hectares (296 acres).
The Institute of Tropical Forestry celebrates its first 50 years with a symposium and publishes a book “Tropical Forestry Management and Ecology.”
The Puerto Rican Parrot Population Viability Analysis and Recommendations, a two day workshop was conducted by the IITF and with attendance by scientists from many disciplines, recovery program managers and field technicians.


A volume on the growth and site relationships of Caribbean pine is published.
A list of naturalized exotic species in Puerto Rico with information on their environmental requirements and estimated rates of spread is published.
The first Fire Crew trained in the EYNF/LEF is dispatched to fight fires.
A decade later, a record-breaking 22 Fire Crews were dispatched from the EYNF/LEF to fight fires in the continental United States.


The International Institute of Tropical Forestry is created by the Secretary of Agriculture as called for in the 1990 US Congressional Farm Bill. The Institute is designed to “serve as a gateway for collaborative efforts emphasizing forest research, demonstration forests, technology transfer, training, education, and networking”.
International forestry is formally recognized as a vital part of the IITF mission.
Supervision of the IITF is transferred to the USDA Forest Service Washington DC office. Ariel E. Lugo is appointed Director.
The State and Private Forestry program is transferred to the IITF from USDA Forest Service, Region 8.
The IITF hosts an international workshop on Natural Sinks of CO2.
After 22 years of continuous efforts to reopen PR 191 closed due to landslides between kilometers 13 and 21, the USDA Forest Service comes to the conclusion that the soils in the area are highly unstable and withdraws any support to reopen the road.
The first Forest Interpretive plan is completed in the EYNF/LEF.


Pablo Cruz is appointed Forest Supervisor of the EYNF/LEF.


A GIS/GPS laboratory is established at the IITF, and is later involved in summarizing the long-term plot information for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Big-leaf mahogany studies in Central and South America.
The IITF begins research studies in Brazil.
The International Institute of Tropical Forestry publishes its 1000th publication.
The EYNF/LEF prepares and implements a drought emergency plan which outlines plans to supply over three million liters (792, 516 gallons) of water per day from rivers and streams to surrounding communities.
The Society of Arboriculturists is established in Puerto Rico.


El Yunque Peak Electronic Site consolidation plan is completed, reducing 23 buildings and over 200 permittees to nine.


The El Portal Tropical Forest Center opens with 3,000 square meters 9, 800 square feet) of exhibit space highlighting public education and demonstrating the importance of forest conservation.
The first annual meeting of Urban Foresters in the Caribbean area is held.


A formal environmental education teacher training program is developed, in partnership with local schools to enhance classroom experiences for middle and high school students and compliment the guided tours given by EYNF/LEF interpreters that the teachers and their students enjoy when visiting the forest.
The EYNF/LEF Land and Resource Management Plan is approved.


Hurricane Georges strikes the island causing massive devastation, followed by extensive hurricane recovery efforts.
A partnership with the University of Puerto Rico Institute 2000 and the Puerto Rico Department of Education is developed to allow teachers attending USDA Forest Service environmental education training sessions to qualify for continued education credits. More than 400 teachers have benefited from these training sessions from 1998 to the present.
The new IITF library is designated the “Frank H. Wadsworth Library.”
El Yunque National Forest World Wide Web site goes on line.
The devastating Pink Hibiscus Mealy Bug is first discovered in the EYNF/LEF. The Puerto Rican Department of Agriculture responds promptly with the introduction of a parasitic wasp to destroy the Mealy bug.


The International Institute of Tropical Forestry celebrates its first 60 years with a symposium.


The IITF publishes a book on the silvics of 102 native and exotic tree species found in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The first release into the wild of ten Puerto Rican Parrots reared in captivity is accomplished, followed by the release of 16 birds in 2001, and nine birds in 2002.
The Center for Aquatic Technology Transfer (CATT) performs comprehensive inventory of aquatic species on the Espíritu Santo River in the EYNF/LEF.


A EYNF/LEF Transportation Study is completed. It recommends a mass-transit system for PR 191.
A population of over 1500 of the dwarf forest orchid Lepanthes eltoroensis is recorded in the elfin forest.


The first El Yunque National Forest Interpretive Site Guides are published in English and Spanish by the EYNF/LEF.
Construction is completed on new chemistry laboratory for plant, water and soil analyses at IITF headquarters.
The IITF publishes a book on the Big Leaf Mahogany.
Legislation is introduced in the US Congress to declare the Icacos, La Mina and Mameyes rivers within the EYNF/LEF as Wild and Scenic Rivers, and for the 4, 000 hectare (9, 800 acre) area presently comprising the El Toro Roadless area to be declared the EL Toro Wilderness Area.
The Catalina tree nursery is re-established.
The EYNF/LEF official Soil Survey is published.


Caribbean National Forest starts a collaboration agreement with the Puerto Rico Army National Guard to implement a long term archaeological survey of Camp Santiago Training Center in Salinas. The project also involved reforestation of the military installation, fire management and inventory and monitoring of flora and fauna.


The Caribbean National Forest loses the “Seniors” program authority, largely diminishing the amount of employees involved in the maintenance and operations of the forest.


The Caribbean National Forest is renamed El Yunque National Forest by executive order of President George Bush.

The Fish and Wildlife Service Aviary for the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery program is relocated from the old Army barracks near Yunque Peak to a new facility built on at a lower elevation on PR 966. The hope is that the lower elevation conditions will increase the recovery rates of the species.


The parrot recovery program experiences an increase in the reproduction and survivability rate of the parrots after years of studies and the relocation to a more suitable aviary location.


American Reconstruction and Recovery Act is implemented following the Great Recesion of 2008-2009.


Work starts in the development of a new Forest Management Plan under the leadership of Pedro Rios as planner.


The archaeology and reforestation project at Camp Santiago Training Center comes to an end after 15 years of continuous operation. This makes it the longest running archaeology survey in the history of Puerto Rico with over 3,200 hours of archaeology field work having been completed and hundreds of sites studied. Through the project history over fifty specialists and technicians were involved in its operation, providing a first working experience to a generation of new Puerto Rican archaeologists.

Pablo Cruz ends his tenure as Forest Supervisor. He is superseded by a series of temporary acting Forest Supervisors.


Sharon Wallace becomes forest supervisor, making her the first female to occupy that position at El Yunque National Forest.


Hurricanes Irma and Maria strike the island of Puerto Rico during the month of September, causing severe damage to its infrastructure. Almost all electronic communications island wide were destroyed. The storm also caused an entire collapse of the electric grid, leaving the island without power for months.

The forest experiences severe deforestation, landslides, road failures and damage to its infrastructure, including significant damage to El Portal Visitor Center and the Catalina Forest Headquarters building.

A large incident command system was established to deal with the hurricane recovery, increasing the amount of personnel with hundreds of temporary workers.

Puerto Rican parrot populations in the wild are decimated by the effects of the hurricane.


Puerto Rican Parrot reproduction rates doubled in the aviary facilities under the supervision of Fish and Wildlife Service personnel.

A temporary visitor center called El Portalito is opened at the town of Palmer. Portalito allows visitors to El Yunque and the community to continue their learning and engagement with the forest.

Operations out of the Catalina Service Center are abandoned due to the severe damage and cramped conditions prevailing after the hurricane. They are relocated to temporary spaces at Rio Mar Resort.


Forest operations are temporarily relocated to a rented space near the end of Highway 66, establishing a temporary Supervisor Office (SO).

The new Forest Management Plan initiated in 2012 is completed and approved.

Sharon Wallace ends her tenure as Forest Supervisor.

Puerto Rican parrots are released in to the wild for the first time since Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Keenan Adams becomes Forest Supervisor, making him the first African-American to occupy that position at El Yunque National Forest.