The Environmental Association St. Thomas- St. John (EAST) with the Virgin Islands Conservation Society (VICS) held a cleanup event of a major watershed and road way last Saturday, March 5. We removed over 50 bags of garbage and trash from the Drake’s Seat area down to the entrance of Magens Bay. We hope that during this VI History month and VI Transfer Day centennial year that lies ahead, that we all take more pride and responsibility of our island’s cleanliness, environmental protection, health and safety.
The Magens Bay roadway leads into a major watershed and mangrove lagoon; it is just one of many in the territory. Our litter, trash or non-point pollution from upland ends up in our watersheds and coastal areas below, not only at Magens Bay, but all across the island. If we want to have clean waters to swim in and fresh fish to eat, we must do better. If we want to reduce our exposure to mosquito borne viruses such as Zika, Dengue fever and Chikungunya, we must do better and dispose of used tires and containers of any size that fill up with water and mosquito larvae. If we want our guests and visitors to better enjoy their stay and return to the VI with images of a litter-free environment, we must do better because it takes all of us to keep our islands clean and to maintain a healthy environment.
The roadway Saturday was littered with trash and in need of attention with over- grown bushes all along this major scenic route to Magens Bay. Unfortunately our letter of requested assistance by the St. Thomas-Water Island administrator in helping to clear the bush prior to the event went unanswered. However, that day we did clear a bit of the bush by hand to get to the underlining litter. One major item of trash noted was the number of “Little Switzerland” fans and other brochures and coupons from other businesses scattered on the roadside. Please do not distribute these advertisements because they very likely will end up on the ground as litter. However as usual, the brunt of the litter was of glass, plastic bottles, single use plastic bags, paper, aluminum cans and Styrofoam products. If you see someone littering, please report it to the Waste Management Authority or any available enforcement officer and if possible take a picture of the violation.
We would like the message by our public officials and administrators to be clear going forward that littering is unacceptable in the VI and that strict litter enforcement is certain to anyone violating the law. We hope that our elected leaders and governmental officials look further into source reduction and recycling legislative remedies as well. Businesses should look towards providing biodegradable and compostable storage containers and products instead of plastics and Styrofoam. While these proposed measures might take more public education, funding and time to be fully implemented, we need to start as soon as possible.
We would like to thank to the 30 volunteers that took the time and effort to make this possible Saturday, especially to the members of the St. Thomas Reformed Church youth group XYG. Thank you also to the Magens Bay Authority and the concession stand for the pizza. Thank you Glenn Higgins of Yak Shack Boat rentals for supplying us with water. Thank you to Alex Whitter, Vicki Whitter, Anthony Smith, Grant Farrell, Silas Wisehart, Jodi Jabas, Benita Martin, Will Brooks, Maggie James, Harry de Haas, Seth Rogars, Mansi Totwani, Rodolph Brunn, Florecita Brunn, Natasha Smith, Jesse Wyatt, Isabel Villegas, Melia Scott, Shaw Clements, Jordan Buin, Cameron Newton, Hannah Clements, Talisse Thompson, Maya Ethridge, Kitty Edwards, Kathy Cockrell, Isha Hodge, Miles and Dalma Simon. Your spirit of Virgin Islands pride, community service and volunteerism is priceless!
Jason Budsan, Environmental Association St. Thomas-St. John (EAST)