The Daily News, JUly 25, 1997 19
Salt River Beach needs
V.I. community's help
A few weeks ago, an editorial
appeared in the Virgin Islands Daily
News entitled, "Salt River Pate." It
stated that, "Sen. Almando (Rocky)
Liburd's pitch to turn St. Croix's
Salt River Beach into a 'recreation-
al park' meaning restrooms, sheds,
parking lot, volleyball courts, bar-
becue pits is a loser all the way."
This beach of Salt River Nation-
al Historical PfAlc and Ecological
Preserve Liburd mentioned to the
media is on the west side of the
park. The area is known as Colum-
bus landing. The senator basically
stated that there is a need for some
type of bath facilities at the beach.
The west Salt River beach is popu-
lar among residents of St. Croix.
Both west and east side of Salt
River'Bay, I have given hikes to
hundreds of school children. How-
ever, the west side is kept nasty by
some people who used the beach.
Trash is thrown all over the place.
Some beach goers change their
clothes in the bushes. The man-
grove forests are being destroyed by
some people who cut, bum or use
trees as sheds.
To put it simply, some people
just keep the place filthy. Summer
after summer, our young people
clean up the island's beaches
including west Salt River beach.
But people still trash the west
Salt River beach area. Oarbage bins
are placed in the area and to some
people it doesn't make any differ-
ence. Believe me, this is an abomi-
nation to what Salt River Park rep-
resents to the people of these
islands and the word.
You see people, Liburd has his
heart in the right place to do some-
thing about the west Salt River
trashed beach. In 1992, Congress
past a bill making Salt River a 912-
acre National Historical Park and
As a people, many of us often
say the people of the Virgin Islands
should control their own land not
the federal government. With the
newly establish Salt River Park, the
local government of the Virgin
Islands has the opportunity to make
a difference in the way it manages
It was former President Bush
who signed a law that provides for a
joint management team between
local and federal government with a
10-member commission of planning
Salt River Park. This commission
has a four-year term. But since the
Schneider Administration took
office, it wasn't until April that the
governor nominated individuals to
The $3 million passed by
Congress in 1992 to help the local
government acquire lands around
Salt River Bay is probably lost due
to this government negligence.
With the exception of Uburd, gov-
ernment officials haven't even men-
tioned doing anything to develop
Salt River Park.
But the senator's good intention
of having bathhouse facilities at the
beach is not quite appropriate for
this historical site. This site is the
only known ceremonial ball court in
the Lesser Antilles. There are so
many artifacts that can still be
found above and below the surface
of the ground. Some artifacts like
the carved stones have been moved
from the area and now in Denmark
I was told the ceremonial ball
court artifacts would be returned to
the people of these islands. Howev-
er, a draft land protection plan for
Salt River Park was drawn up by
the commission. In the plan, it has
how the park will be developed,
including where bathhouses, camp-
ing, picnic areas, trails, visitor
museum center, historical sites and
other sensitive natural areas of the
park will be played out.
I personally believe since the
Salt River Park is a "joint manage-
ment" project between the local and
federal government, the park should
be developed according to the wish-
es of the Salt River Park Commis-
sion. You see, some people do not
believe me when I say Salt River
Park can bring in millions of dollars
to the Virgin Islands. Well devel-
oped managed parks all over the
world bring in millions of dollars.
Michele de Cunco, a personal
friend of Columbus who led 25 men
to Salt River shore said, .. we
came to another island of Caribe
very beautiful and fertile, and we
arrived at a very beautiful harbor.
As soon as the Caribe saw us they
ran away to the mountains..."
". . having the flagships boat
ashore, when we saw the canoes
coming, quickly jumped into the
boat and gave chase to that canoe.
While we were approaching her the
Caribs began shooting at us with
their bows in such manner that, had
it not been for the shields, half of us
would have been wounded."
Just knowing where Columbus
landed, not to mention other arche-
ological sites at the park, Sen.
Liburd, is enough to bring in mil-
lions of dollars.
Olasee Davis, who has a master
of science degree in range manage-
ment and forestry ecology, is a St.
Croix ecologist activist and writer.