THE mayor of Kabayan town in Benguet province has urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to regulate the entry of hikers wanting to climb Mt. Pulag, particularly during long vacations.
Mayor Gideon Todiano said the measure aims to protect the remaining forest reserve in the frequently visited mountain.
"We have observed the after effects on the remaining forest reserve of Mt. Pulag due to the volume of visitors trekking the mountain. This is the reason why we are calling on the DENR to create a system where visitors planning to come to Pulag may be regulated," Todiano said.
During the holiday season, the local government observed the continuous entry of visitors to Mt. Pulag which ranges from the hundreds to a thousand at one time. "Our local government has yet to receive a report from the DENR on the status of Mt. Pulag and how many tourists have visited the area for us to know what measures maybe done to protect it," Todiano added.
Todiano said the destruction being done on the Bermuda grass areas of Mt. Pulag which used to be abundant, but is now more of mud than grass, aside from intermittent sightings of garbage being thrown in various areas in the tourist destination.
Kieber Dionisio, Mt. Pulag National Park superintendent, admitted that due to the frequent arrivals of tourists and trekkers to the mountain reserve, the effects it causes to the Bermuda grass have been noticeable. "We continue to engage the local community to help us inform the tourists on where they should and should not go, and where they should bring their garbage.
Forest guards have been deployed in various areas of Mt. Pulag to educate visitors on what specific areas maybe visited by the tourists," Dionisio said.
To date, the DENR have not listed any case of land conversion by the residents wanting to expand their planting areas since Mt. Pulag have been declared as a mountain reserve. In the previous days, Mt. Pulag registered around eight to 12 degrees Celsius which have lured tourist trekkers to the mountain reserve.
By Jonathan Llanes