The Daly News. Friday. August 27.19093
We are destroying sand dunes and coastal vegetation
One of the moms attractive fea-
lures of Jack Bay and Issac Bay on
the eastern side of St. Croix are the
sand dunes that stretch for miles.
These are created over a long
period of time by sand that blows
onto vegetated areas along the
shore. The dunes acts like dikes to
prevent flooding and as a reservoir
of sand to replenish the beach.
Recently I went hiking in the
area of the sand dunes with students
from the University of the Virgin
Islands and was shocked to see a
vehicle being driven over the sand.
Carlton and Whim. once popular
beaches on St. Croix because of the
sand dunes, are not so popular now.
The dunes have been largely
destroyed and are not able to pro-
iect the vcgemalion further inland
from salt water.
The problem started when the
south shore of St. Croix was heavily
grazed by cattle. As rain fell. there
was very little grass to protect the
land. and with no sand dunes near
the cost. the sea began to reclaim
more ground further inland.
Gullies were created by falling
rain and erosion became a serious
problem. Today, some of the pas-
olures thal once supported cattle
grazing are becoming salt ponds.
In some areas, fences that kept
in animals are half a mile out at sea.
have thick, fleshy stems that extend
several feet into the sand, holding
the dunes together.
The Beach Morning Glory also
has thick, fleshy stems that may
extend 75 feet under the sand sur-
face. The Sea Purslane is a common
creeping plant found on dunes and
can be eaten. It has a high Vitamin
Among coastal shrubs found in
In 1989, Humane Hugo nude
the situation even worse when some
of the trees along she coast were
destroyed by the angry sea and
Vehicles on beaches. buildings
too close to the shore and excessive
fool activity by humans destroy the
natural vegetation that holds sand
When dunes are destroyed, the
entire beach environment is disrupt.
ed. along with plants that can loler.
ate salt spray, high temperatures,
low soil fertility, extreme wet and
dry conditions, sad wind abrasion.
Vegetation that protects the
beach environment also includes
coastline grass, plants, shrubs and
Coastal grass is low growing and
is found on sand dunes on many
beaches in the Virgin Islands. Low
creeping grass protects low dunes in
weller areas such as Salt River Bay.
Herbaceous plants are creeping
vines found along beaches. These
also is on the list of endangered
R Ol:asJee Forests dose to beaches include
Davis trees, vines, shrubs, and a variety of
plants. The fruit of the Cocoplum is
edible and can be found growing
along Sandy Point Beach.
Our The Seagrapc is another kind of
tIre that grows along the shore. The
the Virgin Islands, the Sea Laven fruit of this tree is very popular
der is one of the most attractive. It among Virgin Islanders.
Coconut trees arc also common
ly found along our coastal areas.
So when you visit the beach
again, take tiie to appreciate the
natural vegetion and sand dunes
that protect itr shores.
Olnser Davis, uso holds a mrns
ter ofscience degree in range man
agerenl and forestry rology, is n
St. Croir cUloist. actist aint
The Dally News. Fdday. Au0uSt 27.1993