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Charlotte Amalie
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Nature Trail to Benefit from Grants

Nov. 8, 2007 — Providing a formal entrance and expanding the trail to make a complete loop were two of the ideas discussed Thursday at a meeting of the V. I. Resource Conservation and Development Council called to assess the needs of the Estate Adventure Nature Trail.
The trail, across from the V.I. Department of Agriculture fairgrounds on Queen Mary Highway, winds along a gut and exposes hikers to island terrain as it was when sugar cane was king. Native trees are marked with plaques, as are ruins of dams.
The council will use the information provided at the public meeting to develop a master plan for the trail.
“Having a nature trail in the Virgin Islands protects the landscape,” said Olasee Davis, project manager for the nature trail. “It connects people with nature and the history of the island."
The council has received an $11,110 grant from the V.I. Urban & Community Forestry Assistance Program (UCFAP) and a $2,700 CommUnity Impact Grant from the Home Depot Foundation to enhance and expand the trail to create environmental education opportunities for St. Croix youth and adults and to provide recreational benefits for residents and visitors.
The two grants, according to speakers at the meeting, will be used to build an educational pavilion, to replace invasive plant species with native plants, and to provide equipment to maintain damaged sections of the trail.
Davis said the grants would help enhance the trail’s wildlife habitat and educational resources. He said, funds will also be used to develop a master plan to outline the long-term goals and objectives for the trail and its environs, and provide recommendations for trail routing, design, development, maintenance, management and future expansion.
Davis said work began in earnest on the project in 2002, although he had envisioned the trail earlier.
The trail was originally built in 2005 with a grant from the V.I. Department of Agriculture Urban & Community Forestry Assistance Program, and with volunteer assistance from Council members, UVI-CES, the Golden Grove Correctional Facility, St. Croix Central High School, the V.I. Department of Agriculture, The Nature Conservancy, the St. Croix Hiking Association, the VI Urban & Community Forestry Council, the UVI Agricultural Experiment Station, the St. Croix Educational Complex, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. It is projected that these and other partners will continue to maintain the trail for the community. Representatives from each of the partner groups, except for the schools, Department of Agriculture and Golden Grove Correctional Facility were in attendance at the meeting.
In the discussion about the phase two expansion, suggestions were made to work on a formal entrance. "It is important to keep the entrance presentable at all times," said Richard Gideon, of the Nature Conservancy in Estate Princess.
Another enhancement suggested would extend the trail making it a loop so hikers would no longer have to backtrack to leave the trail.
Davis said he would also like to see a look-out tower added.
Vandalism was also discussed. Brian Daley from the Agricultural Experiment Station said with more people on the trail there should be less vandalism.
Carol Cramer-Burke from St. Croix Environmental Association will begin a birders guide and check list of native birds seen on the trail.
It was agreed upon that Gideon will begin plans and material acquisition to start construction of the pavilion.
"Future phases will be added to the trail," said Julie Wright, from V.I. RC and D, "With a clear idea of the phases we will know where to seek funds."
For more information about the Estate Adventure Nature Trail, or about the Council itself, contact the council at 692-6932 x5 or visit it on the web at www.usvircd.org .

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