I grew up here on St. Croix. My Dad got a boat when I was about 5 or 6 and some my earliest memories of life here on the old rock are of going to Buck Island with my family. Buck Island was and still is my favorite beach "on" St. Croix.
In the 80's there were a LOT of sail boats and people used to do spinnaker swinging. That is where you anchored your boat, attached your spinnaker(the colorful sail that is only used in racing) that had a seat on the bottom(no idea how they attached it), and you could sail up into the breeze and then plunge back into the water! It was cool and I ALWAYS wanted to do it. There were huge parties out there at Buck. People wind surfed, snorkeled, hiked the trail, little kids played in the Salt Pond(very messy, very muddy, VERY not allowed). People saw turtle hatching on the beach and made way for the hatchlings to get to the water. The beach sand was white like sugar, soft, deep, and just so AMAZING.
|Only good photo I could find. Sorry about the watermark.|
Buck Island was a magical place. It was a place that you fell in love with and it touched your soul.
If you were lucky enough you got to spend the night on your boat at Buck; wake up to the fish splashing around, see the sunrise from the top of the hiking trail and know just how wonderful a world this planet is. If you have ever been to Buck Island and snorkeled outside the reef on the North side, or even just outside the lagoon area by the trail you would see an amazing collection of fish, corals, and other sea life. There were times that the snorkeling trail was full of non poisonous jelly fish and it felt like you were swimming in jello! You could imagine that there were mermaids around the next head of HUGE brain coral. You would feel peace, contentment, and a camaraderie for all living creatures around you.
Doing this would not be allowed under the new plans!
When the sun set and you were getting ready to go back to port, the water would turn pink, then purple, then green, and finally the dying rays of the sun would be reflected on the water around you. If you stayed too late, the stars and the moon would be your guide back to port and their reflections in the water would lead your boat back home until another day at Buck Island could be enjoyed.
All of these things are going to be taken away from YOU, from ME, from GENERATIONS to come if we do not act now. The National Park Service must by law come with with a General Management Plan for Buck Island and it's surrounding waters. The MUST by law figure out a way to protect the threatened Elkhorn and Staghorn corals in the water around Buck Island. The NPS, has a plan......... yes, this plan protects the coral; but it also removes TONS of liberties that you the user of this National Park should be able to do. Some of the proposed plans seem reasonable, other bits just don't make a DAMN bit of sense.
|Painting by Linda Mooreland|
Here is the low down:
- The NPS wants to protect the coral - great. They have decided that if you snorkel around the coral it damages it, so they will allow you to swim around it instead. Umm, excuse me, but if I can't see where I am going aren't I going to hit that threatened coral and do more damage? Wouldn't it make sense to let people continue to snorkel around it for both the people's safety and the safety of the coral?
- The NPS - has decided that paddle boarding, kite surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, surfing, etc are damaging to the National Park and that none of that should be allowed to happen to anymore. Hmm... no studies to back this one up, and as I don't kiteboard I can't make a comment on that one. I do however paddleboard and I know how to wind surf. On both of those counts, I am going to stay FAR the heck away from coral. I don't like getting scratched or stuck - hey, maybe you do, but most sports people I know don't enjoy getting hurt on coral when they can avoid it. The NPS also wants to prohibit people from landing at Buck Island with those water craft. So say I grow a pair and I paddle board to Buck from St. Croix........ now how do I take a break and recoup my energy if I can't put my board on the beach? Oh WAIT! I don't. I just float around getting closer to that threatened coral because I can't drop an anchor!
- Anchors are BAD according to the NPS. Putting our anchors in sand kills coral and hurts fish. They are going to install moorings instead. I am ALL for moorings for larger yacht type boats, and for people who want them; but don't tell me that my 19 boat with it's puny anchor is going to damage the coral and kill fish or other animals if I put it in wet sand. Don't force me to compete with my friends for a mooring that isn't well maintained, that won't be secure, and that doesn't allow me to anchor near enough to the beach. If I can't anchor close to the beach how are my children going to get to the beach, or back to the boat if they don't swim well? What if I have some who doesn't swim with me? I have a small boat, therefore I don't have a digny. If I had a kayak I could use it - but oh, wait, I can't use those in the park either according to the new plan. CRAP! I guess I can't go to Buck until my kids can swim 200 meters without drowning, my husband who doesn't swim well can't EVER go with me, and I can't leave a napping baby on the boat while I sit in the sand because at 200m it's too far away to see or hear if he's awake until he falls over board and drowns!
I know. You are saying, I don't live there what does it matter?
Well, it does.
This is a NATIONAL park. That means that every SINGLE person in the US has a stake in what happens here. This means that if you live in Alaska, are an expat in China, or are even thinking of visiting the US and going to a NATIONAL park you should care. Why should you care? In this day and age of governments failing, of economic downturns, of depressions, any of these new plans are going to cost you money. This is another way of big government trying to take away something that is YOURS, that is YOUR right to enjoy, that belongs to YOUR children, YOUR grandchildren, and YOUR great grandchildren. The ideas and sentiments behind the plans are great but there needs to be some common sense used here.
|Photo credit: costalliving.com|
We have until May 1, 2012 to comment on the NPS plan. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take 3 minutes of your time, click on the comment link on the left hand side of the page and fill out the form. Tell the NPS to either leave Buck as it is, or at least allow for snorkeling on the North side, to allow kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing, kite surfing, etc within park boundaries, and to allow anchoring in the wet sand. PLEASE. It's not just my plea to you as a Virgin Islander, but my plea to you as a human being. Do this for your fellow man, for your family, for yourself, for the generations to come.
I thank you and Buck Island thanks you. If you do this, drop me a comment. I'll buy you a rum drink and get you to Buck Island when you come visit so you can see what you helped to save.