April 22, 2006 – About 30 V.I. residents, with the help of the Nature Conservancy and the Waste Management Authority, set out Saturday to clean up the Great Pond area in commemoration of Earth Day.
Richard Gideon, land steward for the Nature Conservancy in the Virgin Islands, said, "This area is well worth preserving." He said the Conservancy did a bird count in the area six years ago and discovered 50 different species.
"On the whole island of St. John, National Park and all, one might find that many species," he said.
Speaking as he tended hamburgers on the grill for the volunteers' lunch, he said, "The Conservancy is always concerned about the welfare of plants and animals."
However, one volunteer about 75 yards from where lunch was being served was not concerned about the welfare of centipedes. A group he was working with had just picked up a junk heap that had once been a boat, and under the boat were a huge soldier crab, some nasty looking cockroaches and a couple of centipedes.
The fellow killing the centipedes looked around at the others and said, "I am sorry, but this is what I do to centipedes. Have you ever been bitten by a centipede?"
Gideon said that the major pieces of land under the Conservancy control in the Virgin Islands are Little Princess Estate Nature Conservancy, Jack and Isaac's Beach and Megan's Beach. However, he said the Conservancy was involved at Great Pond, territory-owned property, "because we want people to become aware of the great natural resource this is."
Two Conservancy interns -Alysse Edwards from California and Dawn Cowie from Canada – teamed with Dee Osinski from the Waste Management Authority.
Osinski said the WMA had been very busy this week, also having sponsored the EcoFair Thursday and Friday at the St. George's Botanical Gardens.
Osinski pointed out that the Environmental Education Program of WMA took over all the programs of the former Anti-Litter and Beautification Committee.
Cowie and Osinski said they wanted to especially thank Bates Trucking for helping to haul away the trash.
Helping gather that trash were members of Boy Scout Troop 227 of Country Day School.
Webelos Cub Scout Mathew Edwards, 10, who lives in LaGrande Princess, said "It's trash everywhere," as he picked up pieces of Styrofoam. "Some of it got here possibly by people putting it there and some probably came here by storms."
He also had some advice to share. "If you keep putting it here, you may hurt the animals – the fish, turtles – damage the environment and it will not look good."
His brother, Christopher "CJ" James, a 12-year-old Boy Scout, had one message for litterbugs, "Please stop."
"I feel good I am cleaning up the beach so other people can use it," he said as he lugged a plastic, 20-gallon bag, half filled with beer cans, Styrofoam and pieces of discarded fishing nets.
There were other rewards for the volunteers besides a beach barbecue.
Gideon said, "As I worked along the road, a yellow warbler followed me and sang to me. I think he was waiting for me to turn up some bugs."
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