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Appalachian State University A-S-E March 2017

For seven years now, March has been a time to welcome new groups and also those who have forged long-term relationships with our project. Since 2011, Appalachian State University students having been coming to offer their services in their Spring Break time.

Back Row, L-R: Prof. Shea Tuberty, Josi Carder, Brooke Henderson, Celeste Womack, Anthony Ajaero, Daniel Burwell, Cole Ronk.
Front Row: Mackenzie Francisco, Hallie Langley, Jaycie Loud, Magha Garcia, 3t Vakil, Andrés Rúa.

This March 2017, group leaders were Jaycie Loud & Daniel Burwell, accompanied by seven of their adventurous peers, and one awesome chaperone, Professor of Biology, Shea Tuberty. From stacking wood in our drying shed, to re-organizing our workshop, to building a small forde on the river on the Ethnobotanical Trail, this team was a delight for the project, and all the tasks were accomplished every day, mostly through rain. Yara Soler gave an excellent Salsa Dance class, and Magha Garcia cooked up a storm in the kitchen, serving the most delicious vegetarian meals. Ricardo Valles helped Andrés Rúa with crew leadership. 3t was the random element. A great dinner at Habitarte, a community fortifying project run by Wanda Rodriguez and Ricardo Valles Perez, in the spectacular mountains of Guayama. What is so remarkable is how many things we all accomplished together. The images below tell that tale of life at Las Casas de la Selva, for a week.

Appalachian State University, Biola UniversityPenn State York University, (and in April, Cambridge Montessori) are the only groups that have come to Las Casas this year. Many of our other regular groups were concerned by the reports of the Zika virus on the island of Puerto Rico, and followed the best info they had for peace of mind, and made the decision not to travel to Puerto Rico.

Please be assured that Zika is NOT a life-threatening concern for us here on the island, and we feel that the concerns about the virus have been unjustly hyped.

App State Professor of Biology, Shea Tuberty:  As a professor at Appalachian State University I understand our US colleagues’ interest in keeping our students safe during international travel. However, the Zika scare in Puerto Rico is entirely overplayed. We didn’t see a single mosquito while there this last week (March 12-18th, 2017). This is a wonderful project from A-Z focused on all things related to sustainability and deserves to continue on its long history of providing alternative spring break groups, researchers, and tourists a destination and opportunity for make a difference there. They are in serious need for help as they embark on their bridge project over a branch of Sonadora Creek to access the old coffee plantation section of the forest. Please consider reinstating your annual visits to Casas de la Selva soon.”

We welcome back next year all our friends from the various Universities and High Schools that could not come in 2017.♥

Come and experience the Alternative Service Experience!
Email: 3t @

From the Appalachian Website: “Consider an Alternative Service Experience and explore a variety of social issues while working with communities across the globe. Whether a domestic program on the gulf coast or an international program south of the equator, use your time during fall, winter, and spring break to create deeper connections between your classroom work and the communities of the world.”

Buy a Tee shirt and Help Support our Road and Bridge Building Project

Images by: 3t Vakil, Mackenzie Francisco, Celeste Womack, and Josie Carder
March 2017

University Students from UPR – We need you!


Comenzando el lunes 27 marzo en la mañana.

Durante los días del Paro Universitario te invitamos a que te unas como voluntarix al equipo de Las Casas de la Selva en Patillas, un proyecto de silvicultura sostenible, taller de trabajos en madera y agricultura orgánica. Aprenderás destrezas de trabajos en madera, un básico de manejo forestal y conocerás de los estudios científicos que se han llevado a cabo en nuestro proyecto entre otras cosas. El costo por estudiante es de $8.00 por día, esto incluye todas las comidas, dormitorio (bunkhouse) y duchas con agua caliente, además de vivir por unos días en uno de los lugares más hermosos de Puerto Rico, el área del Bosque de Carite, donde está localizado el proyecto.

Requisitos: Buscamos participaantes Listxs, Dispuestxs y Capaces, motivadxs, con actitud positiva y compromiso.

Solo 20 espacios disponibles. Por favor enviar un párrafo acerca de ti y porque te gustaría participar.

Correo electrónico:
Puedes visitar nuestra página de internet para que conozcas más de nosotros y de nuestro proyecto.

Muchas gracias, te esperamos.



Starts Monday 27th March 2017 in the morning.

During the days of the University strike we invite you to join as a volunteer of Las Casas de la Selva’s Team in Patillas, a sustainable forestry project, woodworking workshop and organic agricultural area. You will learn woodworking skills and the basics of forest management among other things. The cost per student is $8.00 per day. This includes all meals, bunkhouse accommodation, and showers with hot water. You will be living for a few days in one of the most beautiful places in Puerto Rico- the Carite forest area, where the project is located.

Requirements: All we ask is for Ready, Willing, and Able participants who are motivated, with a positive attitude and commitment.

Only 20 spaces available.
Please send a paragraph about yourself and why you would like to participate with us.
Email to:
You can visit our website for more about us and our project.
Thank you, we look forward to seeing you here.

3t Vakil and Andres Rua

Penn State University, York, March 2017

Click here for a whole bunch of fun images, with an international body of students from Penn State, York, who came through Globalworks to spend a few days helping in a grand overhaul of our workshop and wood storage. All these great images are by Penn State York chaperone, Judith Owen, and Globalworks Team Leader, Ava Murphey. Thank you all for a really wonderful time.

Freddy Dempster (Chief Engineer of Biosphere 2) joined us at Las Casas de la Selva during this period as well and made an inspiring Biosphere 2 presentation. Thank you to Magha Garcia for the fine food, Andrés Rúa, Ricardo Valle, for crew leadership and to Alfredo Lopez for being the random element help.

Google Album:

2017 Collaborations begin

19th January 2017: First planning meeting at Las Casas de la Selva about our next collaborative habitat restoration project, working with endemic and endangered Eugenia haematocarpa (Myrtaceae) on private lands in the Sierra de Cayey, and the vicinity of the Carite Commonwealth Forest.

This project is a collaboration between US Fish and Wildlife Service and Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources (PRDNER).

The tree we will be working with is Eugenia haematocarpa (uvillo), known only from the Caribbean National Forest in the Luquillo Mountains and on private property adjacent to the Carite Commonwealth Forest in the Sierra de Cayey. The Caribbean National Forest in the Luquillo Mountains has six distinct populations consisting of 119 individuals and the Carite population consists of 15 individuals.

Images by 3t Vakil January 2017

Biola University, CA, at Las Casas de la Selva, January 2017

Students from Biola University, California, spent three days with us, and with them we started the BIG project of 2017. In preparation for The Bridge and Road Building Project, we cleared the lower trail of much undergrowth and built a small shed for protection of equipment and supplies whilst building the bridge. Thank you everyone for your hard work and great enthusiasm, we really enjoyed your company here at Las Casas de la Selva.
Thanks to volunteer Juan Reyes, and to Magha Garcia for her wonderful food.

This bridge and road building project is only possible through a generous grant from the Salomon Family Foundation, (Pat and Julio), and donations from Roland Pesch, (USA), Mark and Vanessa Evans, (UK), and Starrlight Augustine, (Norway). Please contact 3t if you are able to help with projects in person, in kind, or financially.

Images by 3t Vakil January 2017

Buy an Eye On The Rainforest Teeshirt

Everyone who has ever been to Las Casas de la Selva, Sustainable Forestry project in Puerto Rico knows how important it is for us to access our forest. Several years ago, we lost our main bridge completely after the impact of two hurricanes and many tropical storms. We would like to build a new bridge, and access road, but we really need your help. Here’s a tee designed by 3t, that looks great, is reasonably priced, and will help us raise funds. 3t and Andrés are grateful for all you can do. Buy one for yourself (and one for a friend) as a Christmas or holiday gift, and we will work to make this bridge and road manifest together. Thank you!

Bridge/Road Building Project-Las Casas de la Selva

Mahoe Hardwood available now – December 2016

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus, from our 30 year old tree plantations. These slabs were harvested in May, 2016, this year and were milled in August. We have had torrential rains for most of this year and keeping the shop and drying shed maintained is keeping us busy. Hence we are letting our woodworkers know that they can order wood that is not fully air-dried. Most woodworkers – we have learnt – like to continue to dry or season tropical hardwoods at their own pace in their local climate. The lowest moisture content we can achieve is 16% when we do dry it for 9 months to a year. The mahoe wood shown here varies between 20 and 30% moisture content. Please note well, that it is wise to dry it slowly in your area, which means leaving it wrapped in plastic and monitoring the further drying for at least two months.

All measurements are in inches, and all the pieces are BIGGER than stated for pricing. All ends are anchorsealed. All pieces include sapwood, and we do not include so much of that in the measurements. Where a board tapers, we make an average of the width. The photos show both sides of each board (eg: A1 and A2 are both sides of the same board).

Many of you already know our mahoe and are familiar with it. We have not planed any of this wood, so you are seeing the rough sawn surface, and some pieces (EFGH) were hosed with water. You will notice that there are dark streaks in some pieces, and they all have the delightful purple and bluey tones that mahoe is so famous for.

Please ask us if you have any questions, we are here to help. Please include in your email to 3t@ :
1) The NAME of the slab:
2) Your shipping address.
3) Your shipping preference for a quote: USPS Priority (4-6 days) or USPS Retail Ground (12-14 days) .

Secure payments through Paypal.

Buying our wood and products is the best way to support our sustainable forestry enterprise in Puerto Rico. Thank you for your support, it is highly appreciated.
More about Mahoe Hardwood

SLAB NAMELengthWidthThicknessBftPrice
A6191.55.71$114.20 SOLD
B6861.54.25$85.00 SOLD
C54111.56.18$123.60 SOLD
D5591.55.16$103.20 SOLD
SLAB NAMELengthWidthThicknessBftPriceSPECIAL PRICENotes
$120.00 SOLDPith just under 0.5″ on one side
SLAB NAMELengthWidthThicknessBftPriceNotes

Knot in K1 side
SLAB NAMELengthWidthThicknessBftPriceSPECIAL PRICENotes
P45.5121.35$81.76$65.00 SOLDHas pith through the slab.

Thank you!

Animal Training Team at Las Casas de la Selva – Nov 2016

Debbie Jacobs, 2nd from left, is leading a team of top animal trainers, from USA and Canada, traveling in Puerto Rico and Vieques to train animals, and their people, all over the island. Our dogs, Negralora, Nogal, Cenizo, Kailash the cat, as well as the chickens, all got a fair share of attention and training. The team are visiting dog shelters all over Puerto Rico and Vieques, in November 2016, offering free training to to provide pet owners, rescue groups, and shelter staff, information about the most effective and humane ways to train animals, and helping to get dogs into loving homes as soon as possible.

Working with horses and dogs the group demonstrated that – force, fear, intimidation, and pain, are not necessary in order to help our pets learn how to be happy and safe companions. The trip also offered trainers the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills by supporting each other in their efforts to refine their training skills. The group visited and stayed in San Juan, Las Casas de la Selva, Carite Forest, as well as the island of Vieques.

The Dog Trainer’s Collaborative, (a group of professional dog and animal trainers)

Images by 3t – November 2016

Contacto Verde- Escuela Segunda Unidad Joaquin Parillas – Nov 2016

Thanks to Reinaldo Rivera Ortiz, above, Director of Citizen Help of Patillas, and the staff of the school, especially Juan Carlos.

Contacto Verde is a program created by the Department of Education and the Department of Natural Resources to facilitate the participation of students at all levels to visit and engage with places of ecological value in Puerto Rico; to encourage experiences with nature, as a complement to environmental education and as a tool to promote the strengthening of cognitive skills and student learning.

La Ley Núm. 36 de 23 de marzo de 2015 crea el programa de gestión ambiental Contacto Verde, adscrito al Departamento de Educación de Puerto Rico y a ser desarrollado en coordinación con el Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales. Esta ley también ordena crear un comité de coordinación y establecer sus funciones, facultades y deberes con el propósito de garantizar la participación de los estudiantes de todos los niveles del sistema educativo en talleres y actividades de visitas a lugares de valor ecológico en Puerto Rico, para fomentar las experiencias de contacto con la naturaleza como complemento para las gestiones de educación ambiental y como herramienta para propender al fortalecimiento de las destrezas cognoscitivas y de aprendizaje del estudiantado. El programa también busca fomentar la participación familiar en actividades ambientales, desarrollar la sensibilidad ambiental y el desarrollo integral de nuestros niños y jóvenes.

Outdoor Adventure Field leaders in training – Oct 2016

These seven intrepid women from North Bay, Ontario, Canada are traveling through Puerto Rico, this October, as part of training to become Field leaders in expeditions. They stayed at Las Casas de la Selva and helped out for two days on manual labor tasks of clearing trails. Subjected to torrential rains, these ladies kept their smiles and energy high, and helped accomplish many tasks at hand.

Mackenzie Kerr said about this trip in advance: “We are a group of seven students in the Outdoor Adventure Naturalist program at Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley. We are raising money to get us to Puerto Rico and assess the current economic crisis they are facing. We will be using the money to help support local volunteer and ecotourism businesses and better understand how members of the community are faring.”

Mackenzie’s remarks from Ontario, after the trip to explore Puerto Rico:

“Myself, and team of Outdoor Adventure Naturalist felt enlightened and welcomed during our stay in Puerto Rico. Various individuals were willing to discuss environmental and economical concerns regarding the outdoor industry. We found ourselves emerged in various ecosystems through our time on the island. We were able to see caves, kayak, hike various trails, visit the national parks, volunteer and explore all that the natural environment of Puerto Rico had to offer. We found ourselves at the Eye on the Rainforest for a nights stay. We were very intrigued by the project and learning about how it functioned. We were welcomed with open arms. Our team found ourselves, regrouping and finding relaxation from our stay. As we reflect on our trip in its entirety it is safe to say we learned about the ecology that exists on the island. But we also learned about the fantastic people and outdoor adventure that it has to offer.”

Images by 3t Oct 2016