The trip along North Shore Road from Cruz Bay on St. John to Maho Bay Camps passes some extraordinary scenery. The scenery includes views of Cruz Bay and Pillsbury Sound from the top of the first hill, of off-shore cays in the Windward Passage, of Trunk Bay and Trunk Cay from the Trunk Bay overlook, the Danish ruins in the tropical forest by Cinnamon Bay, the views of Maho Bay and the campground on Maho Point from the overlook at America's Point. You know you are almost there when you see the campground but you still need to go down the hill, go alongside big Maho Bay, back into the forest and up the bumpy road to the campground.
But the high point for many of us is when the road runs alongside big Maho Bay, just yards from the beautiful white sand beach. It is the bay and beach and scenery of dreams. And this incredibly beautiful area alongside big Maho Bay is under threat and at risk.
It is a complicated situation with issues and ramifications. All of us, and that includes Maho Bay Camps, Friends of the Virgin Islands National and the National Parks Conservation Association urge your involvement. What follows is essentially a cry for help drafted by the Friends of the Virgin Island National Park:
"You may already be aware that (big) Maho Bay is being seriously threatened and requires the urgent attention of everyone who enjoys the easy access to the beautiful beach at Maho Bay and values the crystal-clear waters of that bay. The property bordered by the road at Maho Beach and encompassing virtually the entire basin as one looks inland, right up to Centerline Road, Mamey Peak and Ajax Peak is a beautiful and pristine area, rich in botanical wonders and historic treasures, that appears to be parkland - but is not - and is now facing a significant threat. This land is owned in common by the NPS, Trust for Public Land and seven of the heirs of the original owner.
A private individual is now attempting to purchase the seven shares from the heirs to build an "institute", return a few acres to each of these heirs, develop a significant personal compound and possibly develop additional land for residential home sites. He is insisting that the NPS and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) sell their four shares, as well as other contiguous properties, to him and agree to a number of other conditions.
The land transactions in question are between willing sellers and a willing buyer. They are perfectly legal and, as distressing as the thought may be, they may well be the best current alternative to protecting at least part of Maho Bay and the surrounding lands from rampant development. However, the four conditions he is insisting upon,
-NPS and TPL to sell their four shares, as well as other contiguous properties, to him;
-Permission to reroute the road and thereby impede access to Maho beach;
-Permission to build a 120' x 60' dock in the bay; and,
-Permission to drain the wetlands and open a permanent channel to the bay,
are egregious and will cause significant environmental damage to the bay and wetlands, as well as hamper the free and easy access to Maho beach that we have always enjoyed.
We encourage you to contact National Park Service Director Fran Mainella and express your concern about Maho Bay. Specifically, We suggest that you ask her to:
-Protect the integrity of Virgin Islands National Park and the National Park Service by not entering into any agreement that sells NPS land or sells NPS shares in land held in common.
-Protect the fragile marine resources of Maho Bay by not allowing the construction of a dock in the bay or allowing the wetlands to be drained and a permanent channel to be opened into the bay.
-Protect the right of the residents of St. John and the millions of visitors to this island and VI National Park to enjoy, unimpaired, the spectacular natural beauty of, and easy access to, the beach at Maho Bay."
So please write to:
Fran Mainella, Director
National Parks Service
1849 C Street
Washington D.C. 20240
While you are certainly welcome to write your letter by copying the text provided above, you are encouraged to personalize and customize your letter to best reflect your personal views. We strongly request a letter, as in this brave new world letters are worth a hundred emails.
All the best,
Read about John Souders's Maho Bay