The road was so slippery and muddy and there was a slight drizzle yet this did not hamper the members of the group attending the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) quarterly meeting to venture deep into the heart of the conservation area in Melekeok State last Friday. The purpose: to plant trees at the area and to sneak a visit to the Ngerdok lake.
After planting three trees, PATA president Jonathan Salas led the group towards the lake. We trekked through the mud trails for some 30 minutes, crawling our way underneath trees and foliage and exerting extra effort to avoid slipping down before reaching the 60-foot deep lake which is the largest natural lake in Micronesia.
The lake is the only body of fresh water in Palau and is home to the endangered crocodile (ius), various flora and fauna and other species.
Edwin Polloi of the Melekeok Nature Reserve Conservation Area said Melekeok State applied for a grant from the United States Forestry a couple of years ago and was able to secure funds for the improvement of the lake and its surrounding areas. He said the boardwalks alone that pave only a small part of the lake’s pathway costs $35,000.
This work has been initiated by the Ngardok Reserve Board and is being jointly implemented by Melekeok State, Palau Forestry Section, Palau Conservation Society, the Bureau of Agriculture, and the United States Forest Service.
Polloi said that part of the plans for the lake are the construction of a nature trail and installation of a floating viewing platform on the lake.
Ngardok Lake area is 3.4 hectares and is situated in the largest water catchment area in Palau 4 kilometers northwest of Melekeok town on the eastern side of Babeldaob Island.
Ngardok Lake and surrounding areas has been proposed to be designated as a protected area and has remained in its pristine condition despite the threat of some hunting in the vicinity of the lake. The lake gets its fair share of visitors like students and other individuals for conservation and educational purposes.