The Office of the Governor concluded the final stages of the Hassel Island clean-up effort on Saturday, December 8.
Launched as part of an ongoing initiative to beautify the Virgin Islands, and following the success of the cleanup campaigns on St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, “Hassel Island Clean Sweep” successfully engaged the community in a public/private partnership to beautify and raise awareness on the historical significance of the island and on the hazards associated with littering the natural environment.
Following Hurricanes Marilyn and Hugo, considerable ship wreckage, as well as other debris and garbage had been accumulating at Hassel Island. The National Park Service holds jurisdiction of the Hassel Island land areas and the V.I. government shares oversight responsibility of the associated harbor waters with the U.S. Coast Guard.
deJongh directed the formation of a team to remove the derelict and abandoned ships, as well as clean up the island of trash and litter.
The clean-up effort began on November 15 and concluded on December 8. Partners coordinated to stabilize the Creque Marine slip, remove exotic vegetation, clean up the shoreline, as well as remove abandoned and derelict vessels from the harbor waters with a view of eventually drafting a General Management Plan for the area.
“I am so pleased at the tremendous effort throughout this cleanup campaign to beautify Hassel Island,” said Governor John deJongh. “We owe a special thanks to the various local schools, organizations, and government agencies that helped facilitate this process in full.”
“But our greatest lead on this has truly been the Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen,” deJongh continued. “In her efforts over the years to highlight the history of Hassel Island, as well as her work with the U.S. Congress in locating the funding needed to help beautify the area, she has shown great leadership and care for this community.”
“Special recognition is also due to the local National Park Service and the St. Thomas Historical Trust for their diligence in educating all participants of the incredible history of Hassel Island,” deJongh added.
Two hundred sixty volunteers, including 170 students from the University of the Virgin Islands, V.I. public and private schools, Junior ROTC, and Civil Air Patrol, were invited to attend the “Bag and Drag” component of the effort held December 8. Other participants included volunteers from the St. Thomas Historical
Trust, Friends of National Parks Service, Virgin Islands Amateur Boxing Federation, V.I. Department of Tourism, and the Office of the Governor.
Approximately 300 bags of garbage and 17 tons of total trash were removed from Hassel Island, including the removal of abandoned boats.