The US Virgin Islands this week created a new territorial parks system that protects more than 30 areas from commercial development and reserves them for activities including hiking and beaching.
Properties that total hundreds of hectares were identified in St Croix, St John and St Thomas, including Great Salt Pond, Oppenheimer Beach, Cas Cay and Bovoni Cay.
Governor Albert Bryan also signed legislation that revises a trust fund board whose seven members will be responsible for managing and acquiring land.
The government also expects to implement a Maroon sanctuary zone in St Croix’s West End to honour the legacy of Caribbean descendants of West African slaves who escaped slavery using guerrilla warfare.
The area is home to Maroon Ridge, which was a refuge for runaway slaves.
"Given growing concerns regarding beach access, environmental degradation and the loss of significant historic and other sensitive sites, all those involved in advancing this measure should be proud,” said US Virgin Islands Senator Samuel Carrion.