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VIDOA Makes First Land Purchase as Part of Forest Legacy Program

The department’s Forestry Division has made its first purchase of land in northwestern St. Croix as part of the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program (FLP), according to a press release issued Wednesday by the V.I. Department of Agriculture.
According to Commissioner Louis E. Petersen Jr., this first purchase of land through the Forest Legacy Program is just the beginning for the USVI. “Our agency is committed to securing additional funds for future land purchases for the protection of historically important and environmentally sensitive areas, as well as toward the preservation of green spaces for the benefit of the entire territory. I express my commendations to the VIDOA team for their tireless efforts toward achieving this milestone. I am also grateful to The Nature Conservancy and other partners who played a vital role in this process,” said the commissioner.
The Forestry Division has been working towards this goal since January 2001 when the DOA first joined the program. The FLP is a federal program through which states and territories can request funds to help protect environmentally important forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. Over the years, the Department has applied for funds to purchase lands, or conservation easements on lands, that were designated as priority areas for protection. The number one priority area in the U.S. Virgin Islands is northwestern St. Croix.
Through this program, Agriculture has purchased a 6.5 acre parcel, Estate Spring Garden No. 6, which has strategic importance. Because an important ridge runs through the central area of this parcel, it could become the cornerstone of a Territorial Park in northwestern St. Croix, to honor the runaway enslaved Africans in whose memory this area was named Maroon Ridge.
One important aspect of the Forest Legacy Program is the requirement that funds awarded have a 25 percent local match. For this first purchase, that match was provided through a donation of land from The Nature Conservancy. For more information on the Forest Legacy Program, or on this first land purchase, contact Marilyn Chakroff, Forest Stewardship Program coordinator, Department of Agriculture, at 778-0997, ext. 233.

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