Tourism roads to lead to park reservation
BAGUIO CITY—In the name of tourism, the government will improve the roads leading to the Mt. Pulag reservation this year amid concerns that the projects will further endanger the mountain’s rare plant and animal species.
Edilberto Carabbacan, Cordillera director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), said the P10-million improvement of a 2.5-kilometer road would ease travel to Mt. Pulag while the P124-million rehabilitation of a 3.5-km road to Bulalacao Lake in the Benguet town of Kabayan within the reservation would start this year.
The projects will be financed through the government’s tourism road project, a fusion of resources from the DPWH and the Department of Tourism to improve access to tourist destinations.
Late last year, Benguet officials expressed alarm over further incursions by farmers and miners into Mt. Pulag, home to rare animals and plants that can no longer be found in other parts of the country.
According to Rep. Ronald Cosalan, the provincial government was forming a task force that would strengthen security around the national park and prosecute farmers, pocket miners and poachers entering the mountain’s pine and mossy forests.
Carabbacan said farm intrusions and timber and animal poaching had affected sections of the 11,500-hectare Mt. Pulag National Park even before the road projects were proposed.
The DPWH originally proposed to build a two-way road from the junction of the Mt. Pulag visitor’s center in Ambangeg village, Bokod town, to a staging area where visitors begin the long hike to the peak. Climbing to the summit has been a profitable tourist market for towns surrounding the mountain.
But local officials expressed fears that the road would be used by commercial loggers, so government engineers built what they call a “tire path” that will limit the number of light vehicles there, Carabbacan said.
He said towns around Mt. Pulag have advised the DPWH on the need to stop the further degradation of the mossy forest.
Carabbacan said the road projects were examined by Cosalan and Clarence Baguilat, former Cordillera director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
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