12 The Daily News. Wednesday. July 31, 1991
Virgin Islanders must beware
of unplanned development
Wildlife habitats, green space vital for residents, tourists
St. Tbomas hardly h any ree
space left. The countryside of the
island has been urbanized out of
almost all ts natural beauty and
remeational value in an asoundiqg-
ly sbot period of ime.
Tam a native of St. oamas, and
I know what the island used o look
like. When I was a young boy'
growing up n the '70s here was a
lot more open space in a country
Today. one can look around, and
it is alarmingly evident that the
scenic beauty of St. Thomas is at
stake as well as that of St. Croix
and St. Joh.
The economic growth and con-
tinued rapid development in these
islands ma upper plan p og even
more imperative. Time is against
us. and the situation cannot be
emphasized enough: There is-too
much unplanned development.
The Llodqvist Beach arena on the
eaersm side of Sr. Thomas apob
bly the last open beach eatf that
part of the island.
For example. Sugar Bay Planta-
tion of St. Thomas was a seasonal
wetland area until a-few months
ago. when the area was bulldozed
for the development of condoininl-
This area was notable for ife
rare. threatened or endangered
sphce of animals and plan.
Such species as Bhamas ducks.
great egrets and brown-throated
parakeets visited he area. Great
blue herons, showy egrets. black-
crowned aigbh herons and
Caribbean coots are all part of
Sugas Bay Plantation's natural
Sugar Bay Plantation has an
abundance or wildlife. On a misty
momin. for example. one can ae
loal dear fading on forbs gasses
or shrubs This area is also known
or three species of bas and for the
-In Sugar Bay.Abe Virgin faiands
people have lost a natural habimi to
whlch b had migrated from
as fr away as North America
bfe beading to South America.
mfow-much more wildlife and cru-
es habitat for endangered plants
and animals must we lose to
Valuable, large aes have been
destroyed. The Sugar Bay aea is a
dry foret and brush ecosystem.
The Virgin Islands Division of
Fish and Wildlife pointed out that
"the difference here (in the Sugar
Bay area) Is undoubtedly the pre-
sent areas of shallow brackish water
on the meadow.
Certainly it accounts for the rela
ively large numbers of water birds.
but t also attract other species by
providing various food items. such
as insects grasses and succulent.
Furthermore, the Division of
Fish and Wildlife stated. The Vir-
gin Islands boa is the mot vulnera-
ble of these organisms to the poen-
dal Impacts of the development."
The Virgin Islands boa. found in
the Sugar Bay area. is a rare local
snake that needs to be protected.
How many animals can we ay are
Thus. common sense teaches us
that we should protect indigenous
animals that are unique to our
islands' ecology. These animals'
survival is important for residents
and tourists alike.
In countries such as Kenya.
income from tourists viewing
wildlife is of cridcal importance to
the national economy.
I attended graduate school in
Texas. where wildlife plays a major
part n the vsate economy.
Thus. the economic value of
wildlife is becoming increasingly
recognized So protecting wildlife
habi becomes vital.
In the Virgin Islands. tourism
accounts for almost 70 percent of
our goss national product. but us
far. we never seriously have consid-
ered protecting sensitive urcag fr
viewing by our tourists and re.i-
It does not have to be jut view.
ing our wildlife. but viewing the
The Creque Dam area in St.
Coix is an example of natural mevi-
roomental beauty. This area has
some unique flora. It is also the
home of Spanish moss and of our
rae local peripaus.
If the tourist industry develops
to it fullest on St. Croix. Creque
Dam could be one of the major vis-
iting sites for tourists and locals
The Caledoni a re of St. Croix
is another natural site with dramatic
beauty. This area ithe last refuge
of the exceedingly rare native owls.
Every effort by the people of the
Virgin Islands should be made to
protect and preserve from exploita-
tion this magnificent ravine and for-
est area with its waterfalls and
Development also is threatening
our cays (pronounced "keys"). the
small islands surrounding u. Such
cays as Unle Slhs. Turtledove Key
and Flat Key off the inuth ahorr of
Sr. Thomas should be protected fa
Savanna Island. southwest of St.
Thomas. also should be protected.
This area has potential as a wildlife
refuge or as a base for marine hiklo-
gy studies. The reptile fauna in this
area is unique.
Other island cays. such as
Ducchcap. Cricket Rock and Cock-
roach. are some of the beat areas in
the Virgin Islands for seabirds'
Thee island cays are breeding
areas for blue-faced boobies. Our
fishing industry depends on these
birds to a certain extent. because
they guide fishermen to the fish.
As open space becomes scarce
in these Virgin Islands, the once
country-like seing will be nothing
bu another city.
A lot of people romn St. Thomas
are coming to St. Croix to live.
mainly because of affordable land
and more open space.
St. Cruix people should realize
that the island's open space is
threatened by unplanned develop-
ment. It already ham jarted. We h.t-
ter protect open space or live on top
of une nnther.
Olaser Davis. who hIldd a Msr-
wr of science degrr mn rmwne man.
ugesenr and foresry eulogy. da a
St. Cloix ecolugsx. activs uand