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ST. JOHN — The Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC) announced on Monday that it received a $68,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Coral Reef Conservation Fund and its funding partner, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Separately, the group received a second grant of $74,250 from the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) and its funding partner, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through the 319h program.
A public meeting to get both grants underway will be held Monday March 27 at 6:30 p.m., at the Guy H. Benjamin Community Center – Room 6, in Coral Bay. Everyone is invited to attend.
According to the release, the purpose of the $68,000 grant is to continue efforts to reduce muddy storm-water runoff and turbidity affecting Coral Bay marine habitats by constructing storm-water best management practices (BMPs) such as stabilization of dirt roads, vegetated swales, water bars and road paving in several neighborhoods in cooperation with local homeowners. The grant also commits CBCC to a one-to-one match of in-kind funds, including volunteer services, donations, and partner activities, for a project with a total effort of over $134,000. Work will be accomplished during this next year.
The $74,250 DPNR grant commits CBCC and local residents to an in-kind match, including volunteer services, construction funds, and partner activities, for a project with a total effort of over $100,000.
Previously a call went out to all Coral Bay neighborhoods concerned about their watershed’s drainage — to bring their problem and their willingness to help find and fund solutions to CBCC, so that the grant application would show their willingness to participate – and make it possible to get the grant. These neighborhoods are on the list and eligible to participate in receiving the primary engineering expertise and assistance, if they are willing to take primary responsibility for installation costs of the Best Management Practices (BMPs): John’s Folly Shore Road, Harold’s Way, Sugarbird Hill, Estate Zootenvaal, Estate Eden, Gerda Marsh Road, Johnny Horn Trail, Calabash Boom Road, Freeman’s Ground, Flannigan’s Passage access road, and Various Near-Shore Parking Areas.
Other neighborhoods can also ask for design assistance in their watersheds and on their roads, and become eligible through this process for future financial grant assistance, according to the release.
The Coral Bay Community Council’s (CBCC’s) conservation goal is to improve water quality by returning sediment runoff to natural levels and ensuring that all development proceeds in an environmentally friendly manner. Past and current efforts to address this issue include a previous similar grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) & National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to implement a series of measures to minimize sedimentation. To date, CBCC has implemented aspects of 7 out of 11 objectives from the 2008 Watershed Management Plan (WMP) using EPA and NOAA grant funds and financial support from other partners.
Significantly, CBCC’s past EPA Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) and NOAA American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects demonstrated how new techniques could be used locally, including bio-retention basins, swales, and waterbars to direct water flow and effectively reduce sediment-laden runoff into Coral Bay and onto fragile coral reef habitat. While these efforts have demonstrated great progress towards sedimentation reduction, additional targeted watershed restoration actions are still needed and will yield more benefits. “Residents and homeowners continually ask us whether we can find more grant funds to proceed with these improvements and indicate a willingness to provide matching funds. Thus CBCC has sought and received several grants for this purpose. We encourage all neighborhoods with dirt roads and bad drainage practices to participate in improving our environment.” Said Sharon Coldren, President. More information is available at www.CoralBayCommunityCouncil.org
In combination, almost $250,000 of stormwater management work will be undertaken in Coral Bay to protect the marine coral and seagrass habitats from damage from stormwater, CBCC said.
CBCC’s office (across from the Coral Bay fire station) is open Monday-Friday from 8am to 5 pm. The grouo encourages people to make an appointment or stop by to discuss the project and volunteer to assist. Persons can also contact CBCC at 340-776-2099 or
Feature Image: Roadside storm-water runoff in Coral Bay, St. John. (Credit: CBCC)
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