Department of Geography and the Environment

Dr. Carlos Ramos-Scharrón and V.I. RC&D Awarded $2.7 Million

Tue, July 7, 2009
Dr. Carlos Ramos-Scharrón and V.I. RC&D Awarded $2.7 Million
Severe sediment runoff in Coral & Fish Bays, St. John

St. Croix, VI – July 7, 2009 – The Virgin Islands Resources Conservation & Development Council, Inc. (V.I. RC&D) and its partners are delighted to announce that they have been awarded over $2.7 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration funding under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for their USVI Coastal Habitat Restoration through Watershed Stabilization project. “We are ecstatic to receive funding to help reduce the impacts of sediment [in storm water runoff] on our coral reefs,” said V.I. RC&D President, Marcia Taylor.

The main goal of the two-year USVI Coastal Habitat Restoration through Watershed Stabilization project is to reduce sediment loading rates into the coastal waters of three USVI watersheds [East End Bay on St. Croix and Coral & Fish Bays on St. John] by approximately 100 tons, by implementing erosion & sediment control practices to improve portions of foot trails and unpaved roads in each of the three sites. The project also contains terrestrial and marine monitoring components designed to both assess the effectiveness of erosion control measures in reducing sediment loads and improve our understanding of the linkages between terrestrial sediment inputs and coastal habitat condition.

Such actions benefit our island communities in a multitude of ways: 1) protecting fragile downstream coastal habitats such as mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs from damaging sediment-laden runoff; 2) creating approximately 26 full and part-time jobs over the two-year term of the project; and 3) improving infrastructure and safe public access by proper stabilization of erosion-prone land and roads. Results of this project will increase our quality of life in direct and indirect ways by protecting our soil and creating jobs, but also by improving the health and resiliency of the coastal ecosystems that our islands depend upon for food production, storm protection, aesthetic value, and tourism.

This project builds upon several decades-worth of educational, research, and resource management efforts by V.I. RC&D, Island Resources Foundation, the National Park Service, US Geological Survey, Colorado State University, the University of the Virgin Islands, VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources, NOAA, U.S. EPA, USDA-NRCS and many other local agencies and NGOs. It is our hope that this project will encourage the implementation of similar mitigation efforts throughout the USVI and the Caribbean , and that the lessons learned here can be incorporated into the design of better land development practices.

NOAA received an extraordinary 814 proposals, totaling more than $3 billion in project requests. V.I. RC&D’s project is one of only 50 awards of the highly competitive grant program, which provided $167 million across the country for projects to restore damaged wetlands, shellfish beds, coral reefs and reopen fish passages that boost the health and resiliency of the nation’s coastal and Great Lakes communities. “We believe that our project proposal was reviewed so favorably because of the strength of our innovative partnerships with the Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC), DPNR-CZM, DHPR, Fish Bay Homeowners Association (FBHOA), Dr. Carlos Ramos-Scharrón of the University of Texas-Austin, The Nature Conservancy (TNC),Dr. Sarah Gray from the University of San Diego, and Dr. Tyler Smith of the UVI Center for Marine & Environmental Studies (CMES),” stated V.I. RC&D President, Marcia Taylor.

For more information about the V.I. RC&D USVI Coastal Habitat Restoration through Watershed Stabilization, or about the Council itself, please contact the V.I. RC&D office at 340-692-6932 x5 or visit www.usvircd.org .

 

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  • Department of Geography and the Environment

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