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Tropic news. Volume 9. Issue 6.

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Title:
Tropic news. Volume 9. Issue 6.
Series Title:
Tropic news
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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English

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Caribbean ( LCSH )
Newspapers -- Caribbean ( LCSH )
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serial ( sobekcm )
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North America -- United States Virgin Islands
Caribbean

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University of Florida
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Full Text



TROPIC NEWS


-DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL
RESOURCES
March 1997


DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Volume 9 Number 6


Mitigation, restoration,
rehabilitation?

Often, when faced with loss or degradation of
our natural environment due to development or
other human activities, the terms mitigation and
restoration are offered to compensate for the poten-
tial impacts. What is meant by these two terms? To
mitigate for an environmental impact. (surb as
filling of mangroves) means compensating for the
impact by creating a similar quantity of this habi-
tat elsewhere. Restoration is defined as the return
of an ecosystem to a close approximation of its
condition prior to disturbance.
The problem with proposed mitigation efforts in
the Virgin Islands is that most of our ecosystems
are already found where conditions are right for
that ecosystem to exist. This means that the condi-
tions probably do not exist elsewhere to create a
compensatory ecosystem (mangroves won't grow on
a rocky coastline and sea grasses won't grow in a
boat channel). Well, what about restoring ecosys-
tems that already exist but are degraded?
Restoration sounds good but is it possible? Most
ecologists feel that true restoration is not likely to
be achievable in most cases. This is because we do
not know what predisturbance conditions were,
and because disturbance in the ecosystem is un-
likely to completely stop. There is also an element
of chance in the development of an ecosystem,
something which we cannot hope to re-create.
So if mitigation is not possible and restoration is
not realistic, what can we do? We can strive for
rehabilitation. This means restoring certain as-
pects of an ecosystem and allowing the ecosystem
to rebuild itself. Essential structural and func-
tional features are repaired and protected, al-
though the rehabilitated ecosystem may never be
exactly as it was originally. An example of this
would be cleaning human debris and hurricane
killed trees out of a damaged mangrove area to
restore water flows, provide space to plant new
trees or allow new trees to grow, and improve
water quality that will enable fish nursery habitat
to revive. Rehabilitation takes well thought out
actions based on ecological principles to be effec-
tive. Many of our natural ecosystems in the Virgin
Islands could use some of this tender loving care.


Service Approves Bismuth Shot
for Waterfowl Hunting

Sometime ago, we featured an article on lead
shot. Here's the latest from the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service. (USFWS). Recently, the USFWS
gave final approval to the use of bismuth-tin shot
for waterfowl hunting after test results showed the
Shot is nontoxic when ingested by ducks and goooo.
Waterfowl hunters now have three types of shot --
steel, bismuth-tin, and tungsten-iron for the 1997-
98 season. This ruling applies for hunting local
species of waterfowl as well as migrating species.
"This is good news for waterfowl hunters," said
Acting Director John Rogers. "As always, the
Service's intention is to make as many shot options
available to hunters as possible while protecting
migratory birds from poisoning."
In 1991, lead shot was phased out for use in
waterfowl hunting because it was found to be toxic
to ducks and geese that ingested it while feeding.
At that time, steel shot became the only legal load
for waterfowl.
In response to a petition by the Bismuth Car-
tridge Company, the Service gave temporary ap-
Sproval for the use of the Bismuth-tin shot for the
latter part of the 1994-95 season and for the 1995-
96 and 1996-97 seasons. The company submitted
data for an initial, short-term test that showed no
toxicity. The company has now completed all re-
quired toxicity studies.
The USFWS is the principle Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhanc-
ing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the
continuing benefit of the American people. The
Service manages 511 national wildlife refuges
covering 92 million acres, as well as 72 national
fish hatcheries.



Quote
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the
integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic commu-
nity. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac


'III 'IC1 I I







Our Endangered Wetlands
The term "wetlands" encompasses a variety of
wet environments coastal and inland marshes,
wet meadows, mudflats, ponds, bogs, bottomland
hardwood forests, wooded swamps, and fens. Here
in the Virgin Islands, our wetlands are saltponds
and tropical mangroves. Throughout much of our
history, such wetlands were regarded as useless
places with little economic value. Over most of the
past two centuries people have repeatedly encour-
aged development of these areas. As a result, more
than 100 million acres of the nation's wetlands
have been destroyed. During the 20 years from the
mid-1950's to the mid-1970's, such losses averaged
458,000 acres a year. The figures are staggering.
They mean that an estimated 54 percent of the
wetlands that existed in colonial times have van-
ished forever. Since 1900 the Virgin Islands are
estimated have lost over 50 percent of our man-
grove forests. Numerous saltponds have either
been filled in or opened to the sea, forever altering
their ecological functions.
More recently, we have come to realize that
wetlands are essential ecological resources that
nurture wildlife and fisheries, purify polluted
waters, check the destructive power of floods and
storms, and provide all sorts of recreational activi-
ties. This new attitude is reflected by two decades
of Federal and State laws and programs that serve
and protect our remaining wetlands.
In the V.I., mangroves are protected by law.
Most of our remaining large mangrove areas (Man-
grove Lagoon, Salt River) are now designated as
Marine Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries. It is
our hope that with community support, these
precious resources will be preserved for future
generations.


The Benefits of Wetlands

No other part of our landscape provides so many
benefits at so little cost to the public as America's
wetlands. Such benefits include:

Habitat for Threatened and Endangered
Species At least one-third of the nation's threat-
ened or endangered species live in wetlands.
Marine Fish and Shellfish Production -
Roughly two-thirds of our shellfish and important
commercial and sport species of marine fish rely on
coastal marshes and mangroves for spawning and
nursery grounds.
Water Quality Wetlands act as natural water
purification systems. They remove silt and filter
out and absorb many pollutants such as
waterborne chemicals and nutrients.
Shoreline Stabilization By absorbing wave
and storm energy and slowing water currents,
wetland vegetation serves as a buffer against
shoreline erosion.
SReduction of Coastal Storm Damage -
Coastal wetlands help to blunt the force of major
storms. Coastal mangrove wetlands are so valuable
in reducing the height of storm waves (and result-
ing erosion and property damage) that the Federal
Insurance Administration's regulations state that
insured communities shall prohibit their alter-
ation.

x^^* This newsletter was funded by the US
Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and
SWildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean
'P' Fishery Management Council and the
Government of the VI.
Donna M. Griffin Editor
Ralf H. Boulon Jr. Chief of Environmental Education


n.Fm. r~lncar nx l-li;~n -.r ..- --~j,


GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
OF THE UNITED STATES
*******
Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
6291 Estate Nazareth 101
St. Thomas, USVI 00802-1104
(809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.)






Address Correction Requested


BULK RATE
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.I.
PERMIT NO. 35









*@@*@@@O*@@O* ******eae@oeo


Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper


?~P~~LaBgl~i?;iur-,~-,,UL




Full Text

PAGE 1

Volume 9 Number 6 Mitigation, restoration, rehabilitation? Service Approves Bismuth Shot for Waterfowl Hunting Sometime ago, we featured an article on lead shot. Here's the latest from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (USFWS). Recently, the USFWS gave final approval to the use of bismuth-tin shot for waterfowl hunting after test results showed the shot is n()nt.nxi~ wnf\n lngp~t~d by ducks :rod gOODO. Waterfowl hunters now have three types ofshot-steel, bismuth-tin, and tungsten-iron for the 199798 season. This ruling applies for hunting local species of waterfowl as well as migrating species. "This is good news for waterfowl hunters," said Acting Director John Rogers. "As always, the Service's intention is to make as many shot options available to hunters as possible while protecting migratory birds from poisoning." In 1991, lead shot was phased out for use in waterfowl hunting because it was found to be toxic to ducks and geese that ingested it while feeding. At that time, steel shot became the only legal load for waterfowl. In response to a petition by the Bismuth Cartridge Company, the Service gave temporaryapproval for the use of the Bismuth-tin shot for the latter part of the 1994-95 season and for the 199596 and 1996-97 seasons. The company submitted data for an initial, short-term test that showed no toxicity. The company has now completed all required toxicity studies. The USFWS is the principle Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages 511 national wildlife refuges covering 92 million acres, as well as 72 national fish hatcheries. Quote «A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac Often, when faced with loss or degradation of our natural environment due to development or other human activities, the terms mitigation and restoration are offered to compensate for the potential impacts. What is meant by these two terms? To mitig-ate for an environmental impR~t. (~llrh Ri filling of mangroves) means compensating for the impact by creating a similar quantity of this habitat elsewhere. Restoration is defined as the return of an ecosystem to a close approximation of its condition prior to disturbance. The problem with proposed mitigation efforts in the Virgin Islands is that most of our ecosystems are already found where conditions are right for that ecosystem to exist. This means that the conditions probably do not exist elsewhere to create a compensatory ecosystem (mangroves won't grow on a rocky coastline and sea grasses won't grow in a boat channel). Well, what about restoring ecosystems that already exist but are degraded? Restoration sounds good but is it possible? Most ecologists feel that true restoration is not likely to be achievable in most cases. This is because we do not know what pre disturbance conditions were, and because disturbance in the ecosystem is unlikely to completely stop. There is also an element of chance in the development of an ecosystem, something which we cannot hope to re-create. So if mitigation is not possible and restoration is not realistic, what can we do? We can strive for rehabilitation. This means restoring certain aspects of an ecosystem and allowing the ecosystem to rebuild itself. Essential structural and functional features are repaired and protected, although the rehabilitated ecosystem may never be exactly as it was originally. An example of this would be cleaning human debris and hurricane killed trees out of a damaged mangrove area to restore water flows, provide space to plant new trees or allow new trees to grow, and improve water quality that will enable fish nursery habitat to revive. Rehabilitation takes well thought out actions based on ecological principles to be effective. Many of our natural ecosystems in the Virgin Islands could use some of this tender loving care.

PAGE 2

~ The Benefits of Wetlands No other part of our landscape proVides so many benefits at so little cost to the public as America's wetlands. Such benefits include: Habitat for Threatened and Endangered Species At least one-third of the nation's threatened or endangered species live in wetlands. Marine Fish and Shellfish Production Roughly two-thirds of our shellfish and important commercial and sport species of marine fish rely on coastal marshes and mangroves for spawning and nursery grounds. Water Quality Wetlands act as natural water purification systems. They remove silt and filter out and absorb many pollutants such as waterborne chemicals and nutrients. Shoreline Stabilization By absorbing wave and storm energy and slowing water currents, wetland vegetation serves as a buffer against shoreline erosion. . Reduction of Coastal Storm DamageCoastal wetlands help to blunt the force of major storms. Coastal mangrove wetlands are so valuable in reducing the height of storm waves (and resulting erosion and. property damage) that the Feder~ Insurance Administration's regulations state that insured communities shall prohibit their alteration. Our Endangered Wetlands The term "wetlands" encompasses a variety of wet environments coastal and inland marshes, wet meadows, mudflats, ponds, bogs, bottomland hardwood forests, wooded swamps, and fens. Here in the Virgin Islands, our wetlands are saltponds and tropical mangroves. Throughout much of our history, such wetlands were regarded as useless places with little economic value. Over most of the past two centuries people have repeatedly encouraged development of these areas. As a result, more than 100 million acres of the nation's wetlands have been destroyed. During the 20 years from the mid-1950's to the mid-1970's, such losses averaged 458,000 acres a year. The figures are staggering. They mean that an estimated 54 percent of the wetlands that existed in colonial times have vanished forever. Since 1900 the Virgin Islands are estimated have lost over 50 percent of our mangrove forests. Numerous saltponds have either been filled in or opened to the sea, forever altering their ecological functions. More recently, we have come to realize that wetlands are essential ecological resources that nurture wildlife and fisheries, purify polluted waters, check the destructive power of floods and storms, and provide all sorts of recreational activities. This new attitude is reflected by two decades of Federal and State laws and programs that serve and protect our remaining wetlands. In the V.I., mangroves are protected by law. Most of our remaining large mangrove areas (Mangrove Lagoon, Salt River) are now designated as Marine Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries. It is our hope that with community support, these precious resources will be preserved for future ~enerations. ~&~ t(J;'~~ ~~/.; ,>. "<:t u" -~r1Il~"t~ This newsletter was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean ~ Fishery Management Council and the Government of the VI. Donna M. Griffin Editor Ralf H. Boulon Jr. Chief of Environmental Education ~ BULK RAm u.s. POSTAGE PAm CH~LO1TE AMALIE, V.I. PERMIT NO. 35 GOVERNMENT OF mE VIRGIN ISLANDS OF mE UNITED STATES ****** Department of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife 6291 Estate Nazareth 101 Sl Thomas, USVI 00802-1104 (809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.) O~00. Address Correction Requested Trees were saved by printing on recycled naner