Rhythm & Views by Cassie Pociask

Skim Boarders Hope To Negotiate with National Park over Board Ban at Beaches

Living on an island, it is expected that residents would participate in certain water sports such as surfing, snorkeling and skim boarding.

Until recently, skim boarding was an activity that a person could entertain himself or herself at any beach on St. John. But local student Ale Lopez ran into a problem with this.

Lopez, a freshmen at the Gifft Hill School, was born and raised on St. Thomas. He commutes to St. John everyday, and loves living in the islands and going to school here.

On Sunday, November 12, Ale and his brother Nick decided to go skim boarding. It was just going to be another day in paradise, until they arrived at Cinnamon Bay and ran into some of their friends.

Their buddies informed them a National Park ranger came up to them and said they were no longer able to skim board in the swimming area because of the hard boards. The ranger informed them this also applied to Hawksnest, Trunk and Jumbie beaches.

“I’m pretty bummed,” Ale said when asked how he felt about this. “I’ve been skimming for three years and I’ve never had a problem, and for them to come out of nowhere is depressing.”

Research of the rules and regulations of the V.I. National Park and Superintendent’s Compendium finds no rule exists about skimming with hard boards in swimming areas.

Ale said he plans to meet with the National Park with some of his friends to discuss possibilities of changing the swim area at Cinnamon Bay. This way, the skimmers would not be interfering with the swimmers, according to Ale.

The skimmers would be happy because the corner of the beach is “perfect,” Ale added.

Ale said he does not want to upset the National Park, he just wants to be able to skim board.

On a side note, this is not the first time students have run into problems with the National Park. In past years skateboarders had skated in the park near the Visitors Center in Cruz Bay until they were informed they were no longer able to do so.

A large group of skaters signed a petition, but it was pushed aside and so now skateboarding is no longer permitted on park grounds. Some of the skateboarders switched hobbies to sports such as skim boarding, but now that restrictions are being pressed on this, what will students fall on next?

“Everything is going to be okay in the end,” said Ale, who added he is sure they will be able to work something out.

For information on VINP rules and regulations visit, http://www.nps.gov/ archive/viis/rules.htm