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Sunday, December 3, 2023


Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg has written Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen asking her to take an active role in saving St. Thomas' Botany Bay from development.
The former estate of Warren H. Corning at Botany Bay on the western end of St. Thomas was purchased last year by a group of investors calling themselves Atlantic Land Holdings LLT. They plan to develop the 365-acre site with a 100-unit hotel, 80 housing villas, 80 timeshare units and 40 houses with total square footage of around 700,000 square feet, according to William Karr, local architect for the project.
"I believe there is a compelling national interest in protecting this property," Donastorg said.
He said Botany Bay is what many have described as "the last pristine area on St. Thomas . . . It is home to herds of deer, rare birds, unique plant life and some of the only healthy coral reefs remaining adjacent to St. Thomas."
He continued, " . . . it must not be subject to exploitation by any major development regardless of promises of economic prosperity. It has been designated as an Area of Particular Concern, and is extremely environmentally sensitive."
Donastorg said Botany Bay's natural and cultural resources are well-documented in the 1993 Area of Particular Concern Analytic Study which he forwarded to the delegate. He said that and other studies have determined Botany Bay should be the foundation of the Territorial Park System. "I realize that the local government lacks the resources to obtain or manage any additional lands," Donastorg said. "I believe that federal intervention is required."
The senator asked Christensen's office to investigate resources available for acquiring lands such as Botany Bay, and he commended the delegate on her lobbying efforts on behalf of the National Park's recent purchase of valuable lands on St. Croix. He said he also hoped the Congressional Black Caucus would take an interest in preserving the area.
"We must act swiftly," Donastorg said, as plans are now being laid. "According to experts," he concluded, "only a few acres are actually feasible for development. The remaining acreage should be protected in perpetuity."
The Botany Bay property would be a likely setting for ecotourism; it was listed as a proposed public park and natural area by the U.S. Interior Department more than 40 years ago. The 1993 Comprehensive Analytic Study of Botany Bay carried out by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources was unequivocal: The area, it said, "is worthy of immediate attempts at preservation and planning for appropriate conservation, recreational and educational purposes."

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