79.6 F
Cruz Bay
Monday, July 22, 2024


Preservation, to our local government, frequently means keeping one's post in an election year rather than protecting vital resources. In fact, it is often amusing to watch a politician squirm when two groups take diametrically opposed positions on an issue of preservation, because the politician knows that he or she will have to choose a side to get elected. Choosing sides makes enemies, who act as the scourge of political survival.
With that in mind, it was interesting to watch two governments discuss ownership of the submerged lands around St. Croix and off St. John. Preservation was the central issue. The argument revolved around which government had the authority to preserve.
In his last days in office, President Bill Clinton designated a very large portion of submerged land around Buck Island as a national monument. The government of the Virgin Islands believes that he did not have the legal authority to do so. Therein lies the twist.
If the argument is strictly about preservation, we should let the designation stand. After all, the V.I. government has serious problems to deal with that require much closer attention. The National Park Service is doing a great job of keeping Buck Island as one of St. Croix's natural wonders and the V.I. National Park as a major visitor attraction on St. John. We should not try to fix that which is not broken.
The designation affects only 5 percent of the fishing area off St. Croix, so fishing is not central to the argument. Recreational use of Buck Island is a thriving local industry, so recreational use is not central to the argument, either. It seems that the issue boils down to land rights, in this case submerged land rights. It is a shame that nature does not have a clause to deal with "my right of way is better than your right of way" arguments.
Too bad for all of us that egos are blind to ecological reality. The visionary would argue that allowing a government that cannot clean the sewage from its own gutters to control the waters around Buck Island and off St. John is unwise. The visionary would have a good point.

Editor's note: Bill Turner, executive director of the St. Croix Environmental Association, was formerly a teacher and vice principal at the high school level in Puerto Rico.
We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.