Assistant Information Officer
Department of Information & Public Relations
Members of the community are advised that Phase 1 of the Long Bay, Beef Island Beach Management Plan is nearing completion.
Phase 1 includes the construction of public and taxi parking lots, and a beach dune protection barrier to protect the eastern sand dune from vehicular traffic while also facilitating its restoration.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for Natural Resources, Mr. Ronald Smith-Berkely, stated that “Drop-off points at the central and eastern accesses of the beach will allow persons to offload vehicles and will also facilitate easy access to the seashore by persons with mobility challenge. Implementation of Phase 1 will work towards creating a beach we can all be proud of.”
As the first phase of the project nears completion, as of Saturday, May 27, persons will be required to park in the public parking lots that are now established at the central access point and the eastern end of the beach.
The taxi parking lot is also available for spill-over parking, on days when cruise ships are not scheduled to make calls at the port.
Speaking to the rationale for Phase 1 works, Ms. Angela Burnett Penn, environmental officer, explained, that “At present over 75 percent of the eastern beach dune vegetation has been destroyed, and many of the remaining trees are invasive species. The goal is to restore the beach dune to its former healthy state, while leaving room for a picnic zone and other facilities.
Installation of the beach dune protection barrier is critical to this effort as vehicles compact the soil, and degrades its habitat quality for nesting turtles and its function as an important sand reservoir, integrate to the long-term health and stability of the beach.
The final aspects of Phase 1 will include erection of signage, screening of the parking lots with hedges of plants, native to the beach environment to maintain the natural aesthetic of the beach. Volunteers will be sought to assist with the tree planting effort in addition to a comprehensive clean-up of the beach dune.
Phase 2 of the Plan will follow shortly, and will continue throughout this year. It will involve with the establishment of the public picnic area within the beach dune, inclusive of picnic tables, shade trees, purpose-built barbeque pits, and receptacles for garbage collection and recycling. Implementation of the Plan will include replanting of seagrape trees, restoration of the beach dune with native trees, as well as construction of vending units. The Long Bay, Beef Island Beach Management Plan was finalised in December 2022 following interagency planning efforts and public consultations under the authority of The Virgin Islands Beach Policy 2020.
The public is reminded that permission must be sought from the Ministry responsible for Natural Resources for commercial uses of beaches and non-commercial activities in cases where there would be groups larger than 50 persons, loudspeakers or open fires.
The Ministry continues to manage the natural resources of the Territory in a manner that ensures long-term sustainability.