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Over-development lies at root of our environmental troubles
The road to protection the envi-
ronment in the Virgin Islands is a
lonely one. You see. life is not as
easy as it seems: one has to fight
mentally to make it through the day.
We live in a world that seems to
tum its back on everything that is
good. Man, created in God's image,
was placed in sovereignty over the
earth's environment and crowned
with glory and honor.
But somehow along this road.
man has lost sight of his responsi-
bility to be a good steward of the
It is evident in these islands that
our environment is in serious trou.
ble. Soil erosion, groundwater con-
lamination, pollution of the oceans
and waterways. improper disposal
of hazardous waste and land degra
nation are some environmental
problems that we must face, head
One problem that is quickly
moving to the forefront is the
impact of over-development on the
environment, particularly on St.
The population growth on St.
Thomas is beginning to exceed
what the land can support. This sit-
uation creates traffic congestion.
limited space for housing develop.
ment, pressure on sewer systems
and shortages of potable water.
The Virgin Islands Comprehen.
sive Land and Water Use Plan pro-
jects a 16 percent population
growth by the year 2000. St.
Thomas's population is expected to
grow to 54.745: St John's popula-
tion is expected to grow to 4.732:
St. Croix is projected to grow to
Many people, particularly on St.
Croix. believe that we have plenty
of land to develop, since there are
large areas of "undeveloped land."
What many of us do not realize is
that development is already planned
for several of those "undeveloped"
areas on S Croix.
So many of us are out of touch
with the government in these
islands that we are not aware of
how people are planning our life. It
seems that while we are busy tear-
ing down one another, others are
planning the future of the Virgin
Islands without our best interest In
Natives of these islands will be
the minority with little economical
power. David Hamilton Jackson
and others before us talked about
the day when native Virgin
Islanders will be land powerless.
The day is here. Other Caribbean
islands' governments protect their
people and land.
Yet, many of us sell land
unwisely, without thinking about
our children. Believe me. as we
head to the 21st century. as the cost
of living continues to rise, land will
become more expensive.
Recently, the senators OK'd a
moratorium on major coastal deve-
opment until the Comprehensive
Land and Water Use Plan is
approved. Smart. I believe. This
government has been allowing
development without a plan for
years. S. Thomas is a good exam-
ple of what happens when you
allow haphazard development.
While development continues
any old how, the most significant
V See OLASEE, facin pae
OLASEE CoNtNEDFRM PAE 2
Beware coastal construction
impact of growth and development
in the islands is the degradation of
land and marine environment.
Coastal construction activities such
as dredging to create marine sites
and improve navigation have
increased over the years on a large
scale. These activities have altered
and destroyed the natural cycles of
many of our coastal marine
For example, we have perma-
nently changed the marine and
coastal land through the dredging of
Vessup Bay, Sapphire Bay, Bolon-
Sgo Bay and Lindbergh Bay on St.
Thomas and Krause Lagoon on St.
Croix. Other environmentally harm-
ful activities include construction at
the mangrove lagoon and along
Charlotte Amalie harbor on St.
Thomas, and construction along
Christiansted harbor on St. Croix.
Implementing the Comprehen-
sive land and Water Use Plan now
is the responsible thing to do. You
see, fighting for the environment is
being responsible. Tell me, are we
not the crown of God's creation?
Olasee Davis, who holds a master
of science degree in range manage-
ment and forestry ecology, is a St.
Croix ecologist, activist and writer.