US Virgin Islands creates park system, adds 30 properties

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The U.S. Virgin Islands on Tuesday created a new territorial parks system that protects more than 30 areas from commercial development and reserves them for activities including hiking and beaching.

Properties that total hundreds of acres were identified in St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas, including Great Salt Pond, Oppenheimer Beach, Cas Cay and Bovoni Cay.

Gov. Albert Bryan also signed legislation that revises a trust fund board whose seven members will be responsible for managing and acquiring land.

The government also expects to implement a Maroon sanctuary zone in St. Croix’s West End to honor the legacy of Caribbean descendants of West African slaves who escaped slavery using guerrilla warfare. The area is home to Maroon Ridge, which served as a refuge for runaway slaves.

“Given growing concerns regarding beach access, environmental degradation and the loss of significant historic and other sensitive sites, all those involved in advancing this measure should be proud,” said U.S. Virgin Islands Sen. Samuel Carrion.

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