by Nataki Finch Richards, Executive Director
Do you find yourself taking hikes or long walks around the island in awe of its natural beauty? Do you marvel in the beauty of our hillsides, natural forests and pristine beaches? If so, then you are a natural ally to the conservation movement in the United States Virgin Islands. How can you join the conservation movement? Spend time outdoors and get involved in one of the organizations working to protect and preserve the island.
This feature highlights one organization on island that is making a difference. The Trust for Virgin Islands Lands (TVIL) is a local land trust whose goal is protect scenic views, save wildlife habitats, identify and maintain rare plant species, as well as save culturally significant lands from development. Over the last ten (10) years TVIL has protected and preserved over 100 acres in the Virgin Islands. Contributions from individual donors and charitable foundations have made it possible for the Trust to acquire land and steward it responsibly. TVIL monitors its properties annually and operates in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Land Trust Alliance. The Trust for Virgin Islands Lands (TVIL) is now conducting its Annual Fundraising Appeal. "TVIL's annual fund drive is vital for the continued preservation and protection of natural landscapes for generations to come," explains Ms. Richards.
There are other ways to support conservation in the territory. Property owners can give TVIL a conservation easement on undeveloped property. With the passage of legislation by Congress at the end of 2015, landowners who give conservation easements on their property to qualifying organizations can obtain federal tax incentives. Landowners can deduct up to fifty percent (50%) of their adjusted gross income on their federal income taxes.
The Trust for Virgin Islands Lands (TVIL) is a private, nonprofit 501c(3) organization. On St. Croix, TVIL was granted a perpetual easement on thirty (30) acres of privately held land near Annaly Bay in 2009, obtained title to fifteen (15) acres in Estate Marienhoj in 2013, and raised funds to acquire ten (10) acres in Estate Spring Garden in 2015. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy and the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, TVIL acquired twenty-two (22) acres of pristine, mature forest in the Coral Bay watershed in St. John in 2012. In 2015, TVIL acquired ten (10) acres in Estate Spring Garden that will serve as the centerpiece of a park adjacent to Maroon Ridge.
Over the past year, TVIL has made significant additions to its natural land holdings. It acquired forty (40) acres of historic agricultural land in Estate Lowry Hill from a generous donor. The property is significant because is it a part of the historic Castle Nugent area on island. This year, TVIL aims to continue to acquire land with the ultimate goal of establishing a territorial park system where locals and visitors will be able to learn about rich heritage while connecting with the land.
"The land that we have protected would otherwise have remained vulnerable to development," states Mike Walsh, Board President of TVIL. "Its our belief that through preservation, TVIL will contribute to the economic vitality of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands. Our islands are rich in heritage, cultural diversity, community engagement, and natural beauty. This is what sets us apart and will allow us to move forward despite the challenging economic times." Mike talked about the TVIL, as part of the Friends of the St. Croix National Parks Lecture Series, on June 8. Watch the video at www.stxparkfriends.org.
"If you would like to support the work of TVIL with a financial contribution," says Walsh, "you can send your tax-deductible gift to: TVIL, P.O. Box 25842, Christiansted, VI 00824." Gifts in honor or memory of someone special are encouraged.
Trust for VI Land
St. Croix This Week | St. Thomas + St. John This Week
Location: # 1 Havensight Way, St. Thomas, VI 00802
Mailing Address: PO Box 11199 St. Thomas, VI 00801-4199
Telephone: (340) 774-2500
Fax: (340) 776-1466