Jan. 21, 2004 The V.I. National Park wants your comments on the draft environmental assessment of its plan to reduce the number of goats and sheep that live within the park boundaries. Both are non-native species.
The comment period began Dec. 15, 2003 and runs through Feb. 15. Rafe Boulon, the park's chief of resource management, said the park has not received any comments on the plan although an initial request for comments went out in December.
The draft environmental assessment evaluates the impacts of reducing the numbers of goats and sheep. If the park does not reduce their numbers, the populations will continue to grow. They are well established in all areas of the park.
Should the park not reduce the population, they will continue to threaten native plants, cultural resources and visitor health and safety.
The animals' selective grazing reduces native plant populations, increases invasive plants through seed dispersal and increases soil erosion. Their grazing and trampling also cause aesthetic problems in the park.
At a public meeting on Aug. 12, 2003, the majority of people who testified on the park's plan to reduce the numbers of goat and sheep spoke in favor.
The park has formed a partnership with the local Agriculture Department, which will assist with capturing and impounding the animals. Both agencies are promoting the department's program that requires goats, sheep, hogs, and donkeys to be tagged, registered and fenced.
Copies of the draft environmental assessment are available for review at the territory's public libraries, at the park visitors center in Cruz Bay, at the Christiansted National Historic Site in St. Croix, or on the Internet at www.nps.gov/viis or www.friendsvinp.org.
Copies may also be requested from Boulon at Rafe_Boulon@nps.gov or at 693-8950, extension 224.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
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.