Maho Bay Land Added to V.I. National Park

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, Virgin Islands, 6/16/2009: The Virgin Islands National Park increased by 27 acres when phase one of the Estate Maho Bay project was completed earlier this week, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today.

“The addition of Maho Bay will add one of the Caribbean’s most spectacular beaches to the park and ensure that it is protected forever from any development,” said John Garrison, Director of TPL’s V.I. program. “Special thanks go to the Virgin Islands Delegate Donna Christensen for her key role in securing the funding for this acquisition.”

TPL, a national conservation organization, plans to eventually sell another 198 acres of Estate Maho Bay to the park, meaning a total of 225 acres will be added to the park on the island of St. John. That will be the largest single addition to the park since it was created in 1956 with lands donated by Lawrence Rockefeller.

“The discounted land deal is a great bargain for taxpayers and demonstrates TPL’s commitment to conservation,” says Mark Hardgrove, superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park. “I bet Rockefeller would be proud.”

Joe Kessler, President of the Friends of Virgin Island National Park, said, “We are very pleased with this initial transfer of Estate Maho Bay property and look forward to the day when the remainder to the property goes to the park. TPL is to be congratulated and thanked profusely for their tireless efforts in preserving this land to ensure that it will be able to be enjoyed by all. We are proud to be a partner of TPL and stand ready to assist in any way we can with the eventual transfer of the balance of the property to the NPS.”

Funds to purchase project were provided by Congress from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Additional LWCF funds will be sought for future acquisitions of the rest of the estate.

The protection of Estate Maho Bay with its soft white-sand beaches, crystalline waters, and forested slopes, has been the top priority of Virgin Islands National Park for many years. TPL has worked on the complicated acquisition since 2001 and has been strongly supported by the local community in the Virgin Islands, and has also received major financial support from private foundations.

TPL conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations. Working in the Virgin Islands since 1999, TPL has conserved eight sites on the three islands, including three additions to the Salt River Bay National park and Ecological Preserve on St. Croix, and a renovation of a downtown park on St. Thomas. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations and businesses to achieve our mission.