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EAST Plans 'Take Back Beaches' Event

Sept. 20, 2004 – The Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John will host a snorkel trip and fun day at Sunsi Beach on St. Thomas, Sept. 25.
The day's activities will include snorkeling with local marine experts, who will be available to answer questions about the area's aquatic life. Some beach games are planned, but the primary activity will be relaxing and enjoying beautiful Sunsi Bay, EAST President Carla Joseph said
"Some people are calling this a rally," Joseph said. "We aren't planning any kind of protest, but we do want to make a statement and that statement is that EAST supports beach access and will continue to take steps to protect it on behalf of our citizens."
Earlier this year the new owners of the property surrounding Sunsi Beach erected a razor wire fence and later installed a private armed security guard in order to prevent their neighbors from accessing the beach via a small dirt path that has been used for decades. (See the St. Thomas Source story "Armed Guards, Barbed Wire Fence Block Beach Path").
“EAST is not against development and we respect the rights of property owners. However, our mission is to protect the quality of life for all Virgin Islanders and if we can not access our beaches, our quality of life drastically diminishes," Joseph said.
EAST will be accessing Sunsi Beach via boat. The group will meet at the left side of Coki Point Beach at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Transportation to Sunsi Bay is free for all EAST members, but all are invited to participate. Nonmembers interested in attending can join the organization on site or pay $5 for round-trip transportation to Sunsi Beach. Those with their own boats are also encouraged to attend.
"We want to make it clear that it's unlawful to deny the public from enjoying our beaches. Until the Open Shoreline Act can be amended to alleviate the existing ambiguity of beach access, EAST is committed to sponsoring activities that will educate residents about our environment. Our beaches are an important part of our natural heritage and no barbed fences or armed guards will prevent or dissuade us them enjoying them," Joseph said.
Participants should bring snorkel gear, snacks or lunch, water and sunscreen. For more information call 774-1837.
EAST is an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmental awareness, education and advocacy.

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