The Trust for Virgin Islands Land has decided to preserve 30 acres of land, the Robert D. Armstrong Conservation and Scenic Easement, for public enjoyment. The land is located close to the Carambola Beach Resort and Maroon Ridge on the island’s rugged northwest end. Negotiations among the local land trust, the Armstrong Family Charitable Foundation, and River Development Corporation led to the formation of the easement.
According to Mike Walsh, president of the Trust for Virgin Islands Land, with the conservation and scenic easement, the ownership of the land does not change, but the owner gives up the right to develop the land. Through the easement, the Trust for Virgin Islands Land has the responsibility of protecting the land in perpetuity, preventing any degradation through development. “The idea is to allow the land to stay as it is,” Marsh explains.
A release from the Trust for Virgin Islands Land states that the purpose of the easement is “to perpetually protect the natural scenic, forested, open space, native plants and animals and biological diversity of the Prosperity and Sweet Bottom property and to enhance the public benefit derived from the preservation effort.”
Paul Chakroff, executive director of the St. Croix Environmental Association says that some residents hope that the easement will become the Maroon Sanctuary Territorial Park—a preserve to recognize and celebrate the importance of the areas along Maroon Ridge as a sanctuary for escaped slaves during the island’s colonial period, adding that “many would love to see the whole area protected in perpetuity for its historical and spiritual value, as well as ecological.”
According to the release from the Trust for Virgin Islands Land, the trust was formed “to protect tracts of agricultural and natural landscapes that provide significant benefits to the citizens of the territory by purchasing and holding threatened lands for transfer to conservation-minded ownership, providing assistance to landowners wanting to limit future development through conservation easements and advocating sound land use policy.”
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