2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 28 Jul 2003 16:27:24 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] A Golden Opportunity for Vieques to Be Green
A Golden Opportunity for Vieques to Be Green
By John Todd
July 26, 2003

BURLINGTON, Vt.  When the United States Navy officially stopped its
bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques in May, the
9,000 islanders were overjoyed. After for more than 60 years of using
Vieques for target practice and occupying two-thirds of the island, the
Navy was going, leaving behind a priceless gift: 16,000 acres of
untouched land that could make Vieques an unparalleled site for
Caribbean eco-tourism. If development isn't handled wisely, however 
and recent plans for projects aren't encouraging  Vieques may one day
be nostalgic for the era of Navy occupation.

That land left behind by the Navy has rolling, forested hills that rise
out of the blue Caribbean. The magnificent white-sand beaches are almost
deserted. With the exodus of the Navy, this area has become a national
wildlife refuge, one of the largest in the Caribbean.

Next to the reserve is a ecological treasure, the Bioluminescent Bay,
which sparkles at night because of microorganisms that glow as sea
creatures brush against them  human swimmers feel as if they're
floating among the stars. The area is all the more precious because the
similar bays in the Caribbean have been destroyed by pollution.

The immediate issue that Vieques has to confront is two proposed
projects, both promoted by the Puerto Rican government, that would
threaten the bay and the commonwealth's 1,200-acre Bio-Bay Nature
Reserve that surrounds it. The first is a recreational village, the
second is a fisherman's wharf. Both proposals have been greeted by
protests from residents, many of whom make a living catering to the
relatively small number of visitors who have braved Vieques despite the
bombing runs.

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