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Sunday, July 21, 2024


The V.I. National Park will host four public "open house" meetings as a kickoff to two planning processes that will define how the park is to be managed in the future.
A Vessel Management Plan will provide long-term management direction for the use of park waters by all types of vessels, from cruise ships to dinghys. A Commercial Services Plan will determine the types and levels of commercial services to be provided within the park by the private sector, including such things as taxi service and guided snorkeling trips.
According to park superintendent Russell Berry, the issues to be addressed in these plans will be defined through agency and public input. The open houses, he said, will provide an opportunity for community members to meet with park staff, review existing information and provide input through a variety of means.
The initial open houses are as follows:
* Tuesday, Dec. 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay.
* Tuesday, Jan. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Coral Reef Room at the Westin Resort.
* Thursday, Jan. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Leonard B. Francis National Guard Armory on St. Thomas.
* Saturday, Jan. 8, from 9 a.m. to noon in the Coral Reef Room at the Westin Resort.
Those interested in learning more about the plans and offering input are invited to come by at any time within the three-hour periods and stay as long as they like. At each session there will be brief presentations on the planning process, followed by discussion periods.
The National Park Service will also be seeking public input via a newsletter containing a questionnaire, presentations before community groups, and interviews with key stakeholders — those members of the community who will be impacted by the plans developed. Groups wishing to host a presentation or workshop should contact Jim Owens at 693-8950, ext. 228. The free newsletter will be available at numerous locations on St. John and St. Thomas and by calling the same phone number.
Open house meetings will be held periodically during the plan development process. Information will also be updated regularly on the web sites of V.I. National Park (www.nps.gov/viis) and the Friends of the National Park (www.friendsvinp.org).

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