Local December 4, 2014 | 9:34 am

Official fired, fines slapped for blaze in National Park: Diario Libre

Santo Domingo.- The Environment Ministry on Wednesday fired Pedernales province director Leovigildo Mendez, after its probe into how a permit issued to farm led to a forest fire that devastated more than six hectares within Jaragua National Park, one of the last sanctuaries of the endangered species, hutia and solenodonte.

Quoted by diariolibre.com, Environment minister Bautista Rojas said Ramon Marrero was named to replace Mendez.

The outlet reports that Rojas suspended Méndez and Pedernales forestry technician Rodolfo Méndez on November 22, while the probe continues.

The investigation found that the Provincial Office issued a permit to farmer Manuel Herasme to cut down several hectares of bushes and weeds, but violated it by cutting and burning beyond the established limit as Las Mercedes, an area home to solenodontes and other native and endemic species in danger of extinction.

The site was also featured in a two-year study in 2009 on hutias and solenodontes, called "The last survivors", US$350,000 from the British government.

José Núñez, who led the research, said the blaze was a blow to the efforts by local and foreign organizations to protect the solenodonte and the hutia.

Herasme was charged

He faces fines and must repair the damage by planting native species. Environment also halted the permits to clear areas adjacent to Jaragua National Park or other areas with equal or stricter protection category.

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