LAOAG CITY — The sudden upsurge of tourists visiting Madongan dam with its cascading waterfalls and crystal clear waters is starting to alarm residents with an overwhelming number of cottages being built below its lower stream and some individuals disposing garbage improperly.

“Madongan Dam in Dingras, Ilocos Norte will only last for five years if the constraint in the upper stream of the watershed will not be given attention,” said Professor Charlie Batin, a forester-researcher who specializes in silviculture, agroforestry and social forestry at the state-run Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City.

According to Batin, the watershed needs proper management to maintain its aesthetic pleasure for the next generation to see and appreciate. Citing over a thousand of tourists and picnickers visiting the area this summer season, he suggested that carrying capacity studies be conducted “to regulate the flock of people going to this emerging local tourist destination.

Popularized by thousands of visitors who posts majestic views of the Madongan dam in social networking sites, thereby catching media attention, the Madongan river resort situation within the tri-boundaries of Dingras, Marcos and Nueva Era towns is attracting huge number of local and foreign tourists including balikbayans here.

The dirt road leading to the place is extra challenging for visitors with a hiking trail overlooking cornfields, silted rivers and denuded forests.

Apparently, local residents here are overwhelmed of the number of tourists visiting the area as they used to enjoy the place only with family and friends.

“Now that our place is becoming popular because of Madongan dam, we need to lead by example and protect our environment. Our dam offers a majestic view but we can’t deny our mountains are denuded. We really need to plant more trees and prevent those who cut trees including those who burn our forest,” said Tony Casimiro, a resident of San Marcelino, Dingras, Ilocos Norte.

In view of this, the local government unit of Dingras town led by mayor Erdio Valenzuela said Wednesday he will lead a team to visit Madongan today to meet with local tourism stakeholders in the area and formulate plans for eco-tourism development and at the same ensure protection of the critical watershed.

In Ilocos Norte, the Sabo dam developed by the Department of Public Works and Highways in various parts of the province such as in Carasi, Madongan in Dingras and Galong-galong in Solsona town attract tourists during summer. These places offer raw beauty of nature, ideal for for outdoor activities like trekking, rock climbing, swimming and overnight camping. PNA/