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Hassel Island Cleanup Project A Success

Virgin Islands National Park

National Park News

On Saturday, December 8th, more than 300 volunteers, including students from Antilles, St. Peter & Paul, the JROTC from Charlotte Amalie and Kean High Schools, and the Civil Air Patrol, along with many other volunteers, participated in the cleanup of Hassel Island.

The operation, dubbed “Hassel Island Clean Sweep,” resulted in the collection and removal of 1,800 bags of debris from the island’s shores and ruins. The operation concluded a three-week effort to beautify the island.

Superintendent Mark Hardgrove noted that he’d never experienced such community support in his 35 years with the NPS.

 â€œWhen I arrived at Crown Bay Marina and saw the energy and passion from the nearly 300 participants, I knew we were going to have a wonderful and productive day,” he said. 

Participants gathered at the Crown Bay Marina on St. Thomas on Saturday morning. Members of the Coral World staff, aboard one of the ocean park’s ferries, transported the group to the island. Teams were dropped off at assigned sections of the island, where they collected close to 7,000 pounds of trash. 

At the closing ceremony, Leslie Commissiong, special assistant to the governor, reminded the student volunteers of the consequences of littering, simply by observing the considerable amount of refuse they saw washed up onto the island’s beaches. Hardgrove said that for the first time in 16 years Hassel Island’s beaches are free from derelict vessels and trash. 

Earlier in the week, overgrown brush and trees were cleared, revealing a number of remarkable buildings and pieces of equipment left over from the island’s earlier occupants, such as the Creque Marine Railway and US Navy.  A few adults, aware of Hassel Island’s past, intrigued volunteers as they spoke about how the railway functioned, the use of large pieces of rusted machinery, and the significant connection between Hassel Island and the economic development of the US Virgin Islands.

Milagros Flores, National Park Service historian for Caribbean parks, agreed, stating that “Hassel Island’s structures and the history behind them are primary historic resources of the Caribbean and I look forward to working with the St. Thomas Historic Trust to research their rich history.”

The event was made successful through the joint efforts of the Virgin Islands government, the National Park Service, St. Thomas Historical Trust, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, Essence Properties, Inc., Sea Tow Virgin Islands, and Coral World.


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