The Daily News, Friday, April. 1994
Environment 17 1
Ecosystem of St. Croix's East End must be protected
This article focuses on the sec-
ond part of the East End ecosystem
on St Croi.
As we approach the 21st centu-
ry, the use of natural resources and
the preservation of environmental
quality are the focus of increased
public attention worldwide.
Whether you believe it or not,
environmental issues play an
important role in the economic
development of these islands.
In our schools today, children
leam more about recycling, tropical
forests and endangered species such
as turtles and whales and the need
to protect them from environmental
threats posed by human beings.
Consumers are becoming more
and more aware of food safety, as
well asof waste disposal Economic
interests nowadays are frequently
offset by environmental considera-
tions related to land use.
The increas- in public concern
about environmental degradation
reflects a widespread belief that we
are on the verge of an environmen-
Many people who advocate
environmental protection, however,
seem not to understand the vital
relationships between human beings
and the productivity of natural
Also, many people have yet to
learn the need to manage natural
resources in a sustainable manner.
The mandate to set aside land in
the Virgin Islands as Areas of Par-
ticular Concern and create manage-
ment policies originated in the
National Coastal Zone Act of 1972.
This act provides guidelines
whereby "specific areas may be
designated for the purpose of pre-
serving or restoring them for their
conservation or recreational, eco-
logical, or aesthetic values."
In 1979 the planning office des-
ignated 18 APCs in the Virgin
Islands after public hearings. The
East End ecosystem was one of the
areas to be protected.
The APC proposal will go to the
full Senate this month and hopeful-
ly become law.
From Point Udall, the eastern-
most point in the United State, the
Goat Hills form a central ridge
between Knight Bay and Grapetree
Bay. On the north side of the East
End is Cotlongarden Bay's long,
sandy beach, protected by the bai-
er reef system, which includes the
Cramer's Park area.
East of Cottongarden Point,
Boiler Bay includes a complex reef
system of algals, coral reefs, rocks,
sea grass beds and sand.
Around Point Udall, the white
sand beach of East End Bay opens
to the southeast, followed by the
hills, cliffs and refs of Point Cude-
jare, Isaac Bay, Isaac Point and the
Jack Bay beach area.
Hughes Point, 200 feet high,
cuts this wilderness area off from
the hotel and houses to the wesL As
I mentioned last week, the East End
ecosystem is the last dry forest sys-
tem of its kind left in the Virgin
In the early 1740s, the East End
was settled, and cotton became the
Sugar cane was heavily cultivat-
ed on St. Croix during this period,
but the East End was too dry for
sugar cane production.
Today, one can still find wild
cotton plants growing mostly on the
eastern and southern parts of the
Since the 1950s, the population
of the Virgin Islands has increased
tremendously, putting pressure on
land and other limited resources. St.
Thomas is a perfect example of a
place where space is a factor in
All of us depend upon plants and
animals. By studying them, we can
learn new ways of growing food,
building houses and making cloth-
The problem is, the same things
we depend on are threatened by the
way we plan.
I believe St. Croix is the last
frontier of the Virgin Islands. With
that in mind, we must remember to
Such areas as the East End
ecosystem must be prescrie,,.. I
initely. This unspoiled area is rt .
In coastal resources such as fish.
How many people know that the
4,000-year-old, 23-mile barrier reef
of the East End is one of the best
developed reef ecosystems in the
In 1982 the waters of the East
End were proposed as a candidate
for a national marine sanctuary.
The integrity of the East End
ecosystem rests in the hands of
those of us who are willing to fight
and protect an environment that is
If you do not believe me, ask the
thousands who are camping out this
Easter week at Cramer's Park,
which is part of the East End
Olasee Davis, who holds a mas-
ter ofscience degree in range man-
agement and forestry ecology, is a
St. Croix ecologist, activist and
r Th Daly Nm Fifty Apil 1 19