Workshops Begin Mapping Project for STEER

A pair of workshops being held this week will help lead to better understanding of coastal activities in the St Thomas East End Reserves.

The workshops are designed to train volunteers to be part of the Coastal Use Mapping Project. The project will information for STEER to provide better information for resource management, according to a news release issued by the project.

The two-day workshop will be held Wednesday and Thursday. According to Elena Kobrinski, graduate research assistant at the University of the Virgin Islands, 50 people have signed up for the program – a full house.

“We invited the participants, who will work to create digital maps of ocean uses like boating, mooring, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving,” she said. “It’s a pretty big deal, we’re doing our best to map this accurately.”

With mounting pressures on coral reefs in the USVI from a growing variety of ocean uses and increased coastal development and watershed impacts, new information on human activities in and around the ocean is needed, according to STEER’s news release.

The East End Reserve contains extensive mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs, while at the same time housing a variety of commercial activities. It is also adjacent to a landfill, marinas, an EPA Superfund Site and residential areas served by individual septic systems.

The Coastal Use Mapping Project is intended as a step to improving coastal and watershed management activities by providing a better understanding of human uses, issues, and constraints in the STEER. Outputs of the workshops will include maps, GIS data layers, and a report. The project will provide managers with new information about the patterns of human use in the marine area.

The STEER Coastal Use Mapping Project is a partnership of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and the STEER Advisory Committee.

Further information can be obtained by calling Kobrinski at 1-202-607-1786 or sending her an e-mail at [email protected]

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