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July 24, 2002 – The public has until Aug. 30 to comment on how a plan to install hurricane, fishing and dive moorings off St. John will impact the environment.
The plan calls for the installation of hurricane moorings in Hurricane Hole's Princess Bay and Borck, Otter and Water Creeks. The mooring system will hold about 100 boats up to 75 feet long.
Ten or more overnight moorings would also be installed for use the rest of the year.
The plan also includes up to 10 fishing moorings in an area that runs from Ram's Head to Cabritte Horn Point on St. John's South Side.
"Traditional hard nose fishing takes place in that area," Rafe Boulon, chief of resources for the V.I. National Park, said.
The plan also calls for installing two dive moorings at Eagle Shoals off the Coral Bay area and at Booby Rock outside Salt Pond.
The hurricane mooring system employs a chain system similar to that already used in nearby Tortola. The other types will use the traditional ball system. The areas are within the Coral Reef National Monument, which is managed by the park.
The plan is still in its draft stage and input from the public will be considered when the plan is finalized.
Boulon said the park hopes to have some of the moorings in place before the 2003 hurricane season begins.
"Funding is the problem," he said.
He said the Friends of the V.I. National Park has received a $58,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is working to raise the additional $130,000 needed for the moorings.
Superintendent John King said in a release that the land, water and mangrove systems in the area are seriously impacted by boats that anchor and tie lines to the vegetation lining the shores. The hurricane mooring system will protect those resources.
Boulon also pointed out that the hurricane mooring system will be safer and more convenient for boaters to use than dropping numerous anchors as they prepare for a storm.
Copies of the Draft Environmental Assessment are available at park offices on St. John and St. Croix. It can be accessed on the Internet at the web sites of the National Park Service and the Friends of the Park (under "Planning Documents"). To have a copy mailed or faxed, call 693-8950 or e-mail to Rafe Boulon.

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