74.2 F
Cruz Bay
Tuesday, March 28, 2023


May 5, 2001 – In preparation for this year's hurricane season, the V.I. National Park Incident Command has surveyed all park buildings, checked generators and emergency supplies, and cleared the park boat ramp of debris to assure readiness in the event of severe storm conditions.
One thing that remains to be done is convince boaters to do what's best for the park in terms of seeking shelter.
As a result of the preparedness exercise, carried out Tuesday and Wednesday, the park is ready for the season in terms of hazard mitigation and post-storm recovery, according to incident commander R.W. Jenkins and park Supt. John King.
Now, boat owners and operators need to plan where to secure their vessels in the case of approaching storms, a release describing the precautions states. One thing not to do, it says, is tie up in — or even through — the park mangroves.
Hurricane Hole and Mary Creek on St. John are "naturally preferred locations" to seek shelter from storms, with "deeply indented bays with mostly sand bottom," the release notes. And the way to secure a vessel in them is by using anchors.
It comes down to a survival tactic, the release says: "Take care of our mangroves, and they will continue to take care of us."
"Do not tie up to the mangroves or through them to other trees," the park management advises. "Many mangroves are damaged or killed each year by ropes tied to them when people are securing their boats for storms."
If a boat is tied to mangroves too small to withstand storm forces, "the whole tree may be pulled out. Branches are often broken off by ropes tied to them. When a rope is poorly led to an attachment point behind the mangroves, it can rub the bark off of adjacent trees or break additional branches."
The islands' red mangroves, the release notes, serve as valuable nursery habitats for most reef fish and as a roosting and nesting areas for many species of wildlife. Their roots filter sediment from runoff, helping to keep island waters clean, thus protecting coral reefs and seagrass beds. Just scraping the bark off mangrove branches can expose the trees to infection from various micro-organisms that can stress or even kill them.
And if environmental consciousness won't convince boaters to leave the mangroves alone, the release notes that, as an endangered species, they "are protected under federal and territorial law from any activities which may impact them."

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