Press Releases

CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY E. PLASKETT RELEASES THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT REGARDING THE TEMPORARY RESTRICTION OF MOST PUBLIC USE AT BUCK ISLAND REEF NATIONAL MONUMENT

7/18/20, July 18, 2020

For Immediate Release                             Contact: Michael J. McQuerry
July 18, 2020                                                       202-215-8524

PRESS STATEMENT

CONGRESSWOMAN STACEY E. PLASKETT RELEASES THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT REGARDING THE TEMPORARY RESTRICTION OF MOST PUBLIC USE AT BUCK ISLAND REEF NATIONAL MONUMENT

St. Croix, USVI – Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement upon hearing via a PSA about the closure of Buck Island:

“Yesterday I sent a correspondence requesting a meeting with the Regional Director Stan Austin and Superintendent Greg Camacho immediately after hearing the PSA on the temporary restriction of most public use at Buck Island Reef National Monument.

“The announcement came as a surprise as I had not been informed of the impending closure by the National Park Service.  In my conversation with the Regional Director, I shared my concern over the vagueness of timing and rationale for the closing but more importantly reminded the National Park Service of federal law which prohibits the closure of Buck Island to the people of the Virgin Islands.

“While their notice gives as citation several cases and federal rules to afford the National Parks Service with authority for closure it does not cite several laws and court ruling which are specific to Buck Island Reef National Monument.   First, under federal proclamation 3443 – December, 28, 1961 which establishes the monument, President Kennedy expressly forbids any closure of Buck Island “to the bathing or recreational privileges by inhabitants of the Virgin Islands.  I also reminded the National Park Service of federal court opinion in 1996 which ruled that the National Park Service was enjoined from closing the beach at Buck Island.  The case cited the proclamation and the Open Shoreline Act in conjunction with the Revised Organic Act (which applies to lands ceded to the United States).  Additionally, the Clinton proclamation of 2001 caused additional concern and federal interpretation– the relevant portion of such was that the federal agency ruled that the ‘existing rights’ of the inhabitants remained.  This was also tested during the federal shutdown of 2013 when discussion of closing Buck Island became an issue and the Monument was required to remain open.”  

“Given the insufficiency of the NPS arguments and the flawed rationale, I have suggested that NPS engage the St. Croix community in the decision making to find solutions to the issues of the Park.  I am happy to be part of a strategizing for a solution which does not contravene the law. I suggested holding a virtual or other meeting with the local community (who are also concerned) requesting their support and utilizing their good will to find a solution which meets all of our needs.

“After sending the correspondence I did receive a call from the Regional Director and the Superintendent and we will meet on Monday.  Of course I will keep the public informed and thank everyone who has shared their concerns and suggestions.”

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