The Daily News. June 18. 1993 1
Protect Sandy Point's
I the eurly 19th Coaury. SL
ox's popultdioo was centered in
Qulisiansted and Frederiksted.
Most people ade th&ir ling (Tom
fanning and the island's develop.
mMa panerms reflected the people's
way of life.
- For example, a number of build-
ings in both towas had mixed uses
where owners lived upstairs and ran
Back then. the neighborhood
functioned as community with
song social ties. Businesses such
as restaurants. grocery stores, shock
repair shops. rum shops and church-
es played an important part in the
development of the community.
However, an time went by. the
growth and development of these
islands paid little attention to sensi-
dive environmental issues.
On St. Croix. there is talk about
developing the Sandy Point salt
pond area. A 320-room hotel is
planned for the area.
In 1992, a letter was written to
DPNR officials by the developers.
The letter contained a disturbing
statement by the developers, which
read: am particularly interested In
observations you have regarding the
probability of resistance that may
occur from any of the key approval
agencies this project will touch."
The letter said "as stated in our
meeting I am concerned that we do
not atempl to introduce elements
that will become "deal killer" -
somewhere down the road." This is
the kind of deals t take place
especially when it comes to "big
time" development in these islands.
We know that certain government
officials get payed off by those who
believe they can buy some people
The developers also plan to have
an amphitheater that will accommo-
date up to 200 people and a marina
for ecosystems threatened by the
development project. In the early
1970s, Sandy Point also was con-
sidered for industrial development.
Otto Tranbue. a Cruan then
began to educate the public about
the Importance of the environment
of Sandy Point especially on sea
During this time. sea turtlet
were being slaughtered in large
numbers. By the mid 1970s. Tran-
berg and a small group of con-
cerned citizens began tocall for the
protection of the sea turnles. With
their effort, the environmental con-
'cerns for Sandy Point began to
In 1978. the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service declared Sandy
PN a critical habitat. A year later.
ite National Marine Fisheries Ser-
vioesdesignated the surrounding
watr of Sandy Point a critical
hbitk fIr three endangered turtle
In 19ft Sandy Point was
datoeda National Natural Land-
mal. Pour years later, the U.S.
Govermeat purchased 398 acres of
Sandyiobw and established a
national wildlife refuge. Today.
Sandy Point is one of 13 known
heaches wot.'*wide where
leaertback lurtles nOsi regularly.
The ecosystem of Sandy Point is
unique in that it includes an envi-
rnmean with a sea front, an inland
wetland and woodlands that is
home to some 225 species of plants.
The area also is home to 99 species
of migratory and local birds. Twen-
:y-two of these birds are on the
endangered species list.
Also within the Sandy Point areas
is a prehistoric site called Aklis.
Today. Sandy Point is a popular
tourist fraction where visitors and
residents alike can see the turtles at
night during the nesting season.
If a botel is build at Sandy Point,
the environment will be altered for-
ever. The APC for the Sandy Point
area was written by Island
Resources Foundation. Here are a
few statements about the effects of
developing the are*
"Dredging a salt pond or filling
it with additional water to depths
beyond 35 cm will immediately
endanger the habitat ."
"Dredging stirs up the fine and
sometime toxic sediments.. which
reduce the available oxygen quickly
killing off aquatic organisms."
S"Dredging will have longer-
term effects... on the ecosystems."
"Opening a salt pond by creat-
ing an artificial channel to the sea
can permanently alter . all
species of organisms thus affecting
water quality, salinity and water
"Construction of a channel will
likely alter longshore sediment
transport patnems, possible acceler-
ating shoreline erosion."
S"Floodng a salt pond with
additional fesb water winl similarly
alter species composition and may
kill off halophilic algae, insects.
etc., resulting in the release of bad
"The increased weight of the
water column, as result of flood-
ing. may result in the extrusion of
toxic sediments at certain points
with potential impacts on adjacent
As a'people, it is wrong for us to
allow others to plan the develop-
ment of these islands. Do we Cru-
cians want St. Croix to look like St.
Thomas a hotel on every beach
front? Sandy Point provides us with
recreational activities, cultural
opportunities, educational opportu-
nities and scientific findings.
Those days are gone when
mommy and daddy lived above the
store. Sandy Point can go too if we
do not protect It now.
Olasee Dauvis is an environme.n-
rtalie His option does not neces-
sarily reflect thar of his employer.
the Universitly of the Virgin Islandn
Cooperative Extension Service.