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TACLOBAN CITY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas is stepping up its campaign to protect Lake Mahagnao from degradation amid the increase in the number of families living within its protected area. DENR regional director Tirso Parian said the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will conduct a monthly extraction of water samples and laboratory tests to gauge fecal coliform levels and other water quality indicators. Parian said the EMB will also be conducting focus group discussions to residents living near the lake and within the protected area to gather information on their activities and facilities within the area that may have an effect on Mahagnao Lake’s water quality. “These intervention activities will provide the department and the Protected Area Management Board, as the policy-making body of protected areas, the needed data for an effective and efficient management plan,” Parian said. The lake is part of the park that was first created in 1937 through Proclamation 184 which named it as the Mahagnao National Park. It was later renamed as the Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park (MVNP) by the DENR through Proclamation 1157 in 1998. Around 65 kilometers south of Tacloban City and 18 kilometers away from the town center of Burauen, the MVNP has around 635 hectares of forestlands surrounding the pristine Mahagnao Lake that has an elevation of 860 meters. The area is mostly composed of wetland forests and is also the origin of many rivers and streams flowing on many parts of Burauen town and its neighboring municipalities. Due to the numerous streams, rivers and similar kind bodies of water, Burauen has been known as the Spring Capital of Leyte. In recent years, the MVNP has become an important ecotourism destination in Leyte where it attracts hundreds of visitors every week through its hot springs and waterfalls as well as the rowing or kayaking activities it offers.