Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett are working with the National Park Service to make available additional resources to ensure the safety of visitors to the Buck Island Reef National Monument in light of recent incidents on the island located just off St. Croix.
The governor has pledged his support and promised additional resources, primarily manpower that includes officers from the Virgin Islands Police Department and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
Gov. Bryan also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior in support of increased funding for resources to maintain the safety of the popular excursion destination for residents and tourists.
“Our primary goal is to ensure the park is safe for our local community as well as visitors to the territory,”
Bryan said. “We also have to be good stewards of the precious natural resources at the Buck Island National Monument, that is why we are going the extra mile to keep Buck Island accessible to everyone.”
Congresswoman Plaskett, who is furthering the issue with federal officials in Washington, D.C., expressed similar concerns about Buck Island.
“The lack of concern for families, individuals and especially children by the behavior of a few on Buck Island is disappointing and the violence seen recently is appalling and dishonors the work that we have done to ensure that this national treasure remains our local treasure, and not just for us today but for the generations that will come after us,” the delegate said.
“Our free and uninhibited access as Virgin Islanders to Buck Island is a right that many individuals in the Virgin Islands generally, and on St. Croix particularly, have fought long for, and our office has maintained pressure and done much hard work to keep that birthright.
“The safety of Virgin Islanders and our visitors at Buck Island is important, and we will not tolerate a few people destroying the opportunity and access that we have in the jewel that is the Buck Island Reef National Monument,” Plaskett said.
In the interim, until a more permanent solution is found, the National Park Service has sent officers from Florida and Puerto Rico to assist in enforcement.
The collaboration follows an incident earlier this month during which a fight broke out, and, according to court documents, a man was arrested for fleeing from park rangers after a gun was discharged.