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April 14, 2010

Recovery in Action: Coral Bay Watershed Restoration

This morning, Governor de Jongh joined the V.I. Resource Conservation and Development Council at groundbreaking ceremonies for stimulus grant-funded restoration activities in the Coral Bay, St. John watershed. The Governor said the event kicked-off planned storm water management construction projects to be implemented in Coral Bay with $1.4 million in NOAA-ARRA Coastal Habitat Restoration grant funds received by the council through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A total of $2.78 million was awarded for Territory-wide projects, including for construction work in Fish Bay and on St. Croix’s East End Bay. The combined projects will keep approximately 100 tons of sediment out of Virgin Islands coastal waters.

Speaking at the groundbreaking, the Governor highlighted the ongoing challenges before the Territory as a result of the global recession, noting the significance of the ARRA grant award to help stimulate Virgin Islands jobs while preserving and protecting our precious natural resources"

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. talks with children following the groundbreaking ceremony for the Coral Bay Watershed restoration project on April 14, 2010.

“Through the implementation of targeted watershed restoration practices, the council is seeking to mitigate the damaging effects of sedimentation which has become the primary land based threat harming coastal and marine habitats in the Virgin Islands. This collaborative effort is one more example of a proactive, public/private partnership that my Administration is leading to balance development efforts with the natural environment."

“The Virgin Islands Resource Conservation and Development Council is to be commended, along with our other community partners on St. John, for their dedication in securing this important grant and working collaboratively on measured growth efforts that move the Virgin Islands forward. Along with the St. John Planner, we are working together to modernize our infrastructure, improve our local economy, and continue to build for a more prosperous future for all.”

The Governor spoke of the responsibility to pursue initiatives that create important economic development and additional employment opportunities for Virgin Islanders. 

“Although we all face challenges that affect our pocket books on a daily basis, if we work together, we can discard parochial views and move forward with needed, measured growth efforts. This project does exactly that, and I couldn’t be more pleased to herald this investment for the St. John and Virgin Islands communities.”

Some of the subproject activities will focus on eliminating or reducing the most severe sediment plumes entering Coral Bay, and will include bioretention areas and work on or adjacent to public and private roads, including King’s Hill Road, Carolina Valley, Route 108 (lower Bordeaux), Hansen Bay, Johnny Horn Trail, John’s Folly and Calabash Boom. Work is expected to be done in cooperation with homeowner’s associations, the Department of Public Works and groups of residents who maintain their local roads.

Joining the Governor at the groundbreaking ceremonies were Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls; Agriculture Commissioner Louis E. Petersen; Housing, Parks, and Recreation Commissioner St. Claire Williams; Leona Smith, St. John Administrator; Stuart Smith, St. John Planner; Samuel D. Rauch, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Sharon Coldren, President, Coral Bay Community Council; Norman Williams, Director, CZM Division, DPNR; Diane Capehart, V.I. Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc.; William Blum, Representative of the Egbert Marsh Trust; Senator Craig W. Barshinger; and Government House Executive Staff.

The council’s subproject partners include: the Coral Bay Community Council, the NOAA Restoration Center, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, University of San Diego, Carlos Ramos-Scharron of the University of Texas-Austin and the UVI Center for Marine and Environmental Studies. 

NOAA representative Samuel D. Rauch noted that the project stands “as a model” for other similar geographic areas throughout the nation. “Protecting the coast helps protect jobs.”

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