Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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COSALC
COAST AND BEACH STABILITY IN THE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS

BEACH MONITORING PROGRAM,
UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS

SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT REPORT

1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
2 INTRODUCTION
3 PROJECT ACTIVITIES
    3.1 Project Activities in St. John
    3.2 Project Activities in St. Thomas
  4 ASSESSMENT
  5 RECOMMENDATIONS

University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program
                By
Dr. GILLIAN CAMBERS
June, 1998.

1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This short report describes the establishment of beach monitoring programs in two islands of the U.S. Virgin Islands: St. John and St. Thomas, during the first half of 1998. In St. John the counterpart agency was the Virgin Islands National Park, and in St. Thomas the Division of Fish and Wildlife of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources was the counterpart agency. Personnel from both agencies were trained in the field techniques, monitoring sites were established at selected beaches and equipment was provided. Both agencies have considerable experience in environmental monitoring and scientific measurement, although prior to this project beaches had not been monitored. No training has yet been provided in data analysis.

It is recommended that as soon as the BEACH software has been updated and written to MSExcel, that follow-up visits be made to St. John and St. Thomas to install the new data analysis software and provide training in its use. It is further recommended that a beach monitoring program be established in St. Croix.

2. INTRODUCTION

One of the subjects discussed at the 1996 regional workshop on an "Integrated framework for the management of beach resources in the smaller Caribbean islands" held at the University of Puerto Rico, was to extend the geographical coverage of the Coast and Beach Stability in the Caribbean Islands (COSALC) project so as to include other small islands in the region, in particular the Dutch and U.S. territories.

At the end of 1997, the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program, through their multi-program and regional development facility and their Marine Advisory Section, made funding available to include the U.S. Virgin Islands in the COSALC project.

This report provides a summary and assessment of the activities undertaken in this project and makes recommendations for future work.

3. PROJECT ACTIVITIES

Funding was available to start beach monitoring projects in two islands. St. John and St. Thomas were the two islands chosen. In each island persons from a government agency were trained in beach monitoring techniques and a beach monitoring program was established.

3.1 Project Activities in St. John

A visit was made to St. John from the 12th -15th January, 1998. During this period persons from the Virgin Islands National Park were trained in the field techniques. Four persons were trained. A set of equipment consisting of an Abney level, tape measure and ranging poles was provided. Monitoring sites were established at three beaches on the north coast of St. John: Cinnamon Bay, Trunk Bay and Honeymoon Beach. Additional sites may be established in the future depending on the availability of human resources. Following the visit a manual describing the field techniques and the actual sites was prepared and sent to the Virgin Islands National Park in St. John.

3.2 Project Activities in St. Thomas

During 1997 contact was made with the Commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources in St. Thomas, Ms. Beulah Dalmida Smith and the Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Kenneth Belle. They endorsed the proposal to establish a beach monitoring program in St. Thomas and suggested that the Coastal Zone Management Section of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources would be the most appropriate agency to undertake the monitoring. A meeting was held with Mr. Paul Thomas of the Coastal Zone Management Section in January, 1998. He was interested in the project but indicated that his section did not have sufficient staff to carry out the monitoring program. He suggested that contact be made with the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW).

Following contacts with Mr. Alvin Newton of the DFW, a visit was made to St. Thomas from the 15th-17th June, 1998. During this period persons from the DFW were trained in the field techniques. Three persons were trained. A set of equipment consisting of an Abney level, tape measure and ranging poles was provided. Monitoring sites were established at five beaches on the northeast coast of St. Thomas: Magen's Bay, Coki Bay, Lindquist Bay, Vessup Bay and Bluebeard's Bay. The DFW propose to establish additional sites at Hull Bay Beach, Neltjeberg Bay, Botany Bay and Brewers Bay in the future. Following the visit a manual describing the field techniques and the actual sites was prepared and sent to the DFW in St. Thomas.

4. ASSESSMENT

A good start has been made with the monitoring programs in St. John and St. Thomas. The counterpart agencies in each island have considerable experience in monitoring other coastal system components such as fisheries, coral reefs, mangroves etc. The persons trained were therefore very professional and experienced in monitoring and scientific measurement. It is therefore felt that the monitoring programs are in the hands of competent professionals.

Two manuals were prepared as part of this project:

St. John, United States Virgin Islands, Beach Monitoring Field Manual;
St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, Beach Monitoring Field Manual.

While the field monitoring has started, no training was provided in data analysis. The present BEACH software is based on a Lotus spreadsheet. Neither of the agencies used Lotus or had Lotus installed on their computers. Since a proposal has been submitted to UPR-SGCP for the preparation of up-to-date software using MSExcel, it was decided to return at a later time and install the new software and provide training in data analysis.

While beach monitoring programs have been started in two of the U.S. Virgin Islands, there still remains the third island, St. Croix.

5. RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. As soon as new BEACH software based on MSExcel has been prepared and tested, visits should be made to St. John and St. Thomas to install the software there and provide training in its use. It is anticipated that two days per island is required to provide the necessary training.

  2. Conduct follow-up visits at least annually to provide assistance with the monitoring program. This helps to provide for accuracy and continuity of the monitoring activities.

  3. Establish a beach monitoring program in St. Croix.
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