Please, save Jack and Issac Bay
Otasee Daves Is an esieanmen-
taclst on St. Croix
In 1990.1 wrote # guest editorial
tilled. "Let' DO Something: Save
Jack and Isaac Bay Area." Three
years Is.ei developers are still try-
ing to develop a subdivision at Jack
Back then. many groups
opposed the development of Jack
The Planning and Natural
Resources Department, U.S.
Department of Agriculture Soil
Conservation, University of the Vir-
gin Islands' Coopeyative Extension
Service. U.S. Fish and Wildlife and
others presented scientific docu-
ments describing why this .rea is
not suitable for development.
In ihe lnt.e 980s. there was a
Coastal Zono'Maiagnment Com-.
mission public hearing on Jack Bay
where coe to 100 people attended,
A few weeks later. the CZM ruled
iga.isl the development because of
certain incosistencles in the pro-
posed developmentaT plan.
Al.o. ihe Jack Bay area was des.
ignited by PNR s an area of partic-
ulr conerinh. with plans to create a
For the past year. the St. Croix
Environmental Association has
been conducting hikes in this
unique environment of St. Croix's
Eacs End. I myself have taken
groups of people to Jack and Issaac
Bay erea. Believe me. the cxpres-
sion on people's faces is indescrib*
in this unspoiled aree of St.
Croix that is repeatedly praised in
O-rist mang ins. As a malter of
fet. many visitom skm- about Jack
and Issua Bay before landing on St.
Croix. However, most of this
wilderness area belongs to the V.I.
government and much of the land
was donated as a territorial park by
Fairlsigh Dickinson Jr.
The souther half of the property
included much of Isaac Bay went to
Dickinson with a note in the deed
saying that "nothing in this deed
shall be in derogation of the V.I.
Open Shorelines Act or the rights of
Thus, the controversy between
developers, environmentalist, indi-
vidualists, and even certain govern-
ment agencies is over the pristine
wilderness areas of Jack Bay. Jack
Bay is i very fragile environment.
This area's ecosystem is mostly.
covered with there, scrub, cactus,.
grass and dry forest in valle areas.
The Virgin sahnds classifies Shis
area as extremely limited, even for
recreational uses such as picnic.
campsite o rail paths. Due to the
exposed, near-surfaco bedrock of
Jack and Isac Bay. the area Is also
cla.ified for poor roads mand aseptic
tanks. It'is stated that "this land
type Is restricted to wildlife habitat
or aesthetic purposes."
Yet these developers will have
us to believe that the land'is suitable
for secclusive development. In 1978.
the National Oceanic and Atmo-
spheric Administration mentioned
that "Issac and Jack Bay beaches
and coral reef system are .coiid-
.rcd as one of the best snorkeling
spots in the Caribbean."
In 1975. the West Indies Labora-
tory prepared a report for the
National Park Services, concerning
recommended nation nat uratl land-
marks, and ranks Isaac and Jack
Bay in the two most envionmcntal-
ly sensitive and fragile areas onr St.
The problem is. if development
occur in the Jack Bay area, the con
sequence is massive environmental
degradation. This area has potential
scientific research application to the
Virgin Ialands economy one of
the fateot global dcinc in tropical
And as a U.S. territory, the Vir-
gin Ilnndn is being cosldered as a
major training and research area by
national and international funding
institutions. Jack and Isaac Bay. if
preserved, has particular value
because of its remoteness from
upwind sources of biological or
physical influence, its relative
pristineneso. its previous research
history and its diverse environment.
Scientific research has both a
direct economic input as well as an
international marketing value for
these islands economy.
For the tourist industry on St.
Croix, Jack and Issac Bay offers
what is called ecotourism. How
many hotels on St. Croix offer
nature hikes. Often times, visitors
shop downtown Christiansted or
visit Buck Island, but never explore
St. Croix's rich agricultural history,
tIututal or natural environmemt.
The East End of St. Croix is also
a breeding ground for commercial-.
ly, aesthetically or ecologically
important apecien Mich-n toloster.
seabirds, endemic and nrot plaints.
and endangered species aa, la
How eas we etlow a fare nob
people re enjoy laent and Istat Bay
by themselves? We often flncthat
Shes Isalads a ajr ta people.
The Daily News
October 06, 1993