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Camp Eco Explorer Registration Opens, Camps Set for Ages 7-11, 12-16

Registration opens this week for two local summer camps in Grand Bahama designed to bring youth and teens closer to — and smarter about — what exists in the natural world around them. 

The week-long camps sponsored by Save The Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas include field trips, indoor activities, team building, character development and making new friends, with activities ranging from soil composting to swimming with wild dolphins.

“This is our second year for Camp Eco-Explorer and at the end of last year’s sessions, even though they only lasted a week, kids told us it was the best experience they ever had. They never knew there was so much in the air, in the trees, in the ground and in the water right around them that they did not fully appreciate before,” said Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham.

Activities are age-related with some sessions including kayaking, cave tours, soil composting, bird watching, snorkeling and more. 

The first session, July 24-28, is for older students 12 – 16 from 9 am to 5 pm, with the following session August 7-11 for younger students ages 7 to 11 from 9 am to 3 pm. The $50 registration fee for the younger group and $100 fee for the teens includes lunch and all materials. Space is limited to 15 campers per session and Ingraham expects slots to fill quickly. To register, call 602-7531 or 373-7558 or e-mailprograms@savethebays.bs.  

Save The Bays Donates to 6 Schools for Environmental Programs

Hundreds of students in the northern Bahamas will find environmental programs in their schools next year, thanks to a generous donation from Save The Bays.

Recipient schools, all in Grand Bahama, were surprised when they were selected without knowing they would be competing for the first of its kind donation.

“We wanted to reward each of the schools whose students were interested enough in the environment to enroll and participate in the Youth Environmental Ambassadors program,” said Joe Darville, Chairman of Save The Bays, the fast-growing local environmental movement launched in 2013 that has more than 20,000 Facebook fans today.

“Those students did extremely well in the most recent session which was the most challenging of all the series we have done. Not only did these young Bahamians give up every other Saturday for four months, they had to conduct research, sometimes tedious, reporting details that were forwarded to international authorities for inclusion in broader studies. The 24 students were so diligent. Even if they were sorting and separating types of plastic in beach trash, they understood that what they were doing was helping to paint a broader picture in order to understand sources, develop campaigns to end the litter and find ways to solve the problem that produced the litter and plastic in the first place.” 

Two weeks ago, the 24 graduates were pinned during a lively ceremony that included drumming, part of the program designed to teach teamwork and build self-confidence.

School principals had been invited to attend the pinning ceremony.

“When we began to call them up to tell them they were receiving funds for their school’s environmental programs, their eyes popped, they grinned, no one had any idea,” said Darville, a retired educator who never stops teaching, but these days spends most of his time speaking about the fragile and oft-threatened Bahamian environment.

Some of the recipient schools have basic environmental programs, others will be able to introduce gardening, growing vegetables and herbs at the school grounds, or add to their anti-litter campaigns with additional trash receptacles and liners. 

Recipient schools include Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School, Eight Mile Rock High School, Sunland Baptist Academy, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Jack Hayward Junior High School and Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy.

Save The Bays will offer the YEA program again during the school year and in the summer will host week-long Eco-Explorer summer camps for students ages 12-16 in July and for ages 7-11 in August. With only 15 slots available for each week’s camp, space is expected to fill quickly.

Waterkeepers Bahamas Dives into Summer Supporting Swim Programs

Two swim programs in Grand Bahama got a welcome boost this week with donations from Waterkeepers Bahamas, the local licensee of the world’s largest and fastest-growing non-profit solely focused on clean water.

“We were pleased to show our support for the Freeport Aquatics Club, which has been such a powerful force in teaching discipline and sportsmanship while turning in highly competitive performances, and to the YMCA Swim for Ocean Survival (SOS) program that has done a remarkable job teaching school children

Marine environmental monitoring organization Waterkeepers Bahamas lends support to Grand Bahama YMCA Swim for Ocean Survival (SOS) program. Pictured l-r, Grand Bahama Coastal Waterkeeper and Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville, YMCA Programs Director Shakeitha Henfield and Bahamas Waterkeepers Executive Director Rashema Ingraham.

basic in the water survival skills,” said Rashema Ingraham, Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director.

Both programs, she said, help prepare people to enjoy the waters safely.

“When Bahamians start swimming in open waters at a young age, they develop confidence but just as importantly, they develop an appreciation for the beauty of the underwater world and all the marine life that they would never see up close and personal otherwise,” said Ingraham.

Joe Darville, Save The Bays Chairman and Grand Bahama Coastal Waterkeeper agreed.

“Being in the water with fish, conch, crawfish, with sponges and corals and grasses, gives all of us a deeper respect for and a better understanding of the need to preserve marine life,” said Darville. “That commitment to preserve complements the goals of Waterkeepers Alliance to make as much of the world’s water as possible fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”

According to YMCA Director Karon Pinder-Johnson, more than 10,000 people in Grand Bahama – nearly one-fourth of the island’s population – have participated in the SOS learn to swim program in the eight years of its existence and this year she is hoping that more teachers will participate. The program is free of charge and open to students of all schools in Grand Bahama.

Diving into action — Waterkeepers Bahamas supports Freeport Aquatics Club (FAC) as part of its mission to bring awareness of the need to preserve a fragile marine environment. Pictured l-r, Grand Bahama Coastal Waterkeeper and Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville, FAC Head Coach Albert ‘Bert’ Bell, Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham and FAC super star and assistant coach Ashton Knowles.

“This is a perfect example of a community pulling together, one non-profit helping another to achieve a common goal – appreciating the beauty of our waters and making it safe for more people to enjoy them,” said Ingraham. 

Founded in 1999 by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Waterkeeper Alliance patrols rivers, bays, lakes and oceans on six continents. Kennedy was in The Bahamas in 2013 to help launch the Conchservation initiative and present The Bahamas with its first Waterkeeper license. Since then, the country has gained two more and volunteers monitor the waters and file reports in three areas of the northern Bahamas.

 

 

Save The Bays Pins 24 Bahamian Youth Environmental Ambassadors

Zhyir Miranda, 12, knew even as a youngster that littering was wrong. But it wasn’t until she signed up for Youth Environmental Ambassadors and saw the damage it could do to marine life that she fully understood littering wasn’t just ugly – it was dangerous. 

“Littering does not just look bad, littering can kill the turtles in the sea. It can kill the animals that live in the mangroves and depend on mangroves for their survival especially when they are young,” said the 12-year-old who rattled off characteristics of red, black and white mangroves as if she were reciting words of a favourite rap tune.

On Saturday, Zhyir was pinned for her passion, rewarded for her enthusiasm.

The Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Academy seventh grader became one of 24 young Bahamians certified as Youth Environmental Ambassadors (YEA), a program sponsored and operated by the environmental advocacy organization Save The Bays.

Students and facilitators conduct fact-finding missions as part of their field studies to earn certification in the Save The Bays Youth Environmental Ambassadors program.

For the past four months, junior high students like Zhyir spent every second Saturday trekking through bush, cleaning beaches, learning about wetlands, studying the impact of plastic on oxygen supply of salt or fresh water marine life. All activities, both in the classroom at the YMCA in Freeport and in the field, were geared toward making participants future leaders in environmental stewardship.

“This was the fourth year Save the Bays has offered Youth Environmental Ambassadors to youth in Grand Bahama,” said Rashema Ingraham who oversees the popular program that normally draws twice as many applicants as there is space to accommodate. More than 200 have graduated. The last 4-month session, Ingraham said, differed from former versions of the program.

“In the past, we spent a lot of time visiting sites, learning about how industrial waste is managed, for instance, or power generated or what it takes to produce solar energy. But this time we focused on research which we shared with organisations abroad. The work that participants did was very important. They gathered data about shoreline erosion, indigeneous vegetation and wetlands. Some of the work involved fine detail. There were sections of beach, for instance, that when we did a beach clean-up, we separated the trash and garbage to identify how much plastic or glass or metal or other debris we found. The most discouraging part was that the majority of the debris we collected had not floated ashore from passing ships. Based on bottles and labels of products, most of the litter we found was the result of local activity reflecting environmental neglect and disrespect.”

Littering still hurts Zhyir, but now she is more likely to speak up when she sees someone toss something from a car window, even if the offender is much older or bigger. 

“It is bad for the ocean and it kills things in the sea. It kills turtles. When I joined Save The Bays (YEA), I learned a lot more about our environment and I learned that there are 80 species of mangroves. I learned so much and now I want to stand up for the environment. Did you know that viviparis, they’re like plants that give birth to live plants, grow up in salt water and breathe oxygen from above the water? I found that cool.”

Finishing in the top three of the class, Zhyir said the course that included leadership and teamwork played out through team drumming exercises, helped reaffirm her passion to care for pets as a veterinarian. 

As graduates received their pins and began their roles as youth ambassadors, the schools they came from were also rewarded. Save The Bays provided financial support for all six schools whose students participated in the YEA program including Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School, Eight Mile Rock High School, Sunland Baptist Academy, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Jack Hayward Junior High School and Mary Star of the Sea.

The YEA program is part of Save The Bays education mandate. The organization has also led the demand for a strong Freedom of Information Act, transparency in government, an end to unregulated development and more. Its strong legal arm has experienced courtroom victories leading to greater sensitivity to environmental impact. More than 20,000 have liked STB Facebook page and its petition to the Prime Minister of The Bahamas calling for a comprehensive environmental protection act among other changes has nearly 7,000 signatures.

Luxury yachts offer hurricane relief to The Bahamas

The Enchanted Lady and crew have been in the southern Bahamas providing invaluable help to the ongoing hurricane relief efforts as part of Yacht Aid Global (YAG), a pioneering international humanitarian organization that uses yachts to deliver aid to coastal disaster areas around the world.

The Enchanted Lady and crew have been in the southern Bahamas providing invaluable help to the ongoing hurricane relief efforts as part of Yacht Aid Global (YAG), a pioneering international humanitarian organization that uses yachts to deliver aid to coastal disaster areas around the world.

Innovative humanitarian outfit uses luxury vessels to deliver critical supplies and ongoing support to natural disaster sites around the world

 

As relief efforts continue in the islands hit hardest by Hurricane Joaquin, a pioneering international aid organization has offered an invaluable helping hand to The Bahamas.

 

YachtAid Global (YAG) delivers humanitarian, developmental and conservation aid onboard yachts to isolated and underprivileged coastal communities worldwide. In times of natural disasters, YAG has the ability to mobilize and shift resources quickly to provide disaster relief in ways that others have not explored.

 

“Yachts are essentially self-contained disaster relief platforms that work perfectly in the geographic arrangement of isolated island communities,” said Mark Drewelow, YAG founder.

Supplies are delivered by the crewmembers to local officials who then disburse them where the need is greatest

Supplies are delivered by the crewmembers to local officials who then disburse them where the need is greatest

“The Bahamas has long been a fantastic host to luxury yachts; as such, our industry is obligated to help out in times of need. Every visiting yacht has the capability of contributing to the hurricane Joaquin recovery effort.”

 

The California-Based nonprofit organization works closely with yacht owners, crew and industry professionals to determine the needs of a particular area that yachts cruise to; sponsor or raise funds to meet those needs, acquire the necessary goods, resources and supplies; and transport and distribute the relief.

 

YAG recently undertook a disaster relief effort in the tiny Pacific island nation of Vanuatu in the wake of Cyclone Pam, successfully delivering 140,000 liters of water and several tons of aid over a 10-day period, as well as administering critical medical care, helping re-build schools and homes, clearing roads and undertaking needs assessments in collaboration with local partners and national crisis management agencies.

The Enchanted lady offloading supplies to a smaller vessel off the coast of Rum Cay

The Enchanted lady offloading supplies to a smaller vessel off the coast of Rum Cay

Drewelow said the team is eager to bring the lessons of that experience to bear on the relief effort in The Bahamas.

“It became clear that on disaster-struck islands, there is a great need for safe drinking water and the challenge is working out how to move in bulk as fast as possible with the least risk possible,” he explained. “We also learned about making sure aid is ‘pulled’ from the impacted area and not  ‘pushed’ from donors; this means deliveries must be determined by properly vetted needs assessments so as to ensure that the right resources are going to the right places as quickly as possible.”

YAG’s policy is to work through the official disaster response agencies in each impacted country. Their offer to help The Bahamas has been welcomed by Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

 

“We are most grateful for the donations and strategic support that have been offered by YachtAid Global,” Russell said. “The southern Bahamas remains in great need of help and they are globally recognized experts in disaster relief in small islands and coastal communities.”

 

Waterkeeper Bahamas, the local branch of a worldwide alliance dedicated to protecting the planet’s waterways, is collaborating with YAG in this effort.

 

“Partnering with Waterkeeper Bahamas has been and continues to be an outstanding experience,” Drewelow said. “They respond with care and thoughtfulness to requests for information and intelligence and they ask the right questions to YAG. They facilitate meetings for YAG with high-level people. Bahamas Waterkeepers is exceptional in all regards.”

 

Founded in 2006, YachtAid Global has worked with more than three-dozen yachts and brought aid to over 50 different remote or underprivileged areas of the world. Drewelow, a luxury yacht captain for 20 years, said he created YAG when he realized there was huge potential for the industry to make a meaningful contribution to the communities he had visited and come to love during his career.

 

 

Save The Bays, Bahamas Waterkeeper Join Forces to Commend BREEF on Undersea Sculpture Garden

Save The Bays commends BREEF on the commission and installation of undersea sculpture garden in the waters off Southwestern New Providence. (Photo credit: Jason deCaires Taylor)

Save The Bays commends BREEF on the commission and installation of undersea sculpture
garden in the waters off Southwestern New Providence. (Photo credit: Jason deCaires Taylor)

Two major marine environmental voices today joined forces to congratulate the Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation (BREEF) for commissioning and installing an underwater sculpture garden off New Providence’s southwestern shore, calling the work “a stunning example of why it is so important to draw attention to the need to protect and preserve the marine assets of The Bahamas.”

Praise came from the newest local entry in the growing clamour to protect Bahamian waters, Bahamas Waterkeeper, and from the fast-growing environmental movement that has gathered more than 6,000 signatures on a petition (www.savethebays.bs) calling for an environmental protection act, Save The Bays.

“The living art gallery funded by BREEF adds yet another dimension to the amazing underwater environment of the waters off Clifton, home to stunning coral reefs and one of the most popular and frequently filmed dive sites throughout the Caribbean region,” said attorney and environmental consultant Romi Ferreira, a Save The Bays director and member of its legal team.

“But because of the contrast of the beauty and what is happening not that far away with ongoing oil pollution along the shores of Clifton Bay, we need to look at this as the tipping point and act on it now, not tomorrow, now.”

BREEF created the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden as “a one-of-a-kind snorkeling and scuba diving experience for Bahamians and visitors that serves as a multi-purpose hub for the marine environment.”

The underwater garden is intended to be “a perfect fusion of art, education and marine conservation, provide a habitat for fish, corals and other marine organisms, create an exceptional outdoor classroom for environmental education and keep divers and snorkelers away from threatened reefs, giving those reefs a chance to rejuvenate naturally.”

BREEF is a community partner of Save The Bays, the organization that has hit a chord with those concerned that unregulated development and oil pollution are threatening marine life, including fragile organisms that make up coral reefs that sustain conch, crawfish and fish populations.

“This could be the tipping point because government can no longer ignore what is happening in the waters off Clifton,” said Ferreira, an authority whose expertise was recognized when he was selected by CARICOM to help develop a legal framework for the energy sector in eight countries in the Caribbean.

“In the last weeks with divers sending selfies around the world of themselves and their dive gear covered with oil from diving in an area that is supposed to be one of the world’s finest dive destinations, The Bahamas’ image stands to be tarnished and action must be taken. At the same time, we have this beautiful new sea garden drawing more attention to the area nearby and we just hope it will help sensitize everyone to the need to protect our waters and to stand up and say we will no longer tolerate abuse of the environment,” said Ferreira.

Save The Bays has been a clarion voice in a growing cry for strong environmental protection legislation and since its founding 18 months ago, has found its message resonating with a wide audience. Its Facebook page has more than 17,100 Likes and its petition calls for an end to unregulated development, transparent government and other legislation to protect the environment.

Freedom of Information Lecture Announced

Romi

Save The Bays and the College of The Bahamas set to host first in a series of talks entitled “Our Right to Know”

 

Save The Bays (STB) and the College of The Bahamas have announced a two-year partnership to raise awareness of the vital importance of citizens rights and government transparency through a series of lectures and panel discussions.

The first in the “Our Right to Know” series will be held on Wednesday, October 22 in the Harry C. Moore Library from 6 – 8:30pm. It will focus on the urgent need for a freedom of information act in The Bahamas. The Bahamas National Trust, BREEF and re Earth have also agreed to be sponsors of the lecture series.

Lisa_Benjamin_web

The panelists will be: retired Justice Jeanne Thompson, assistant professor Lisa Benjamin and attorney and social activist Romi Ferreira. Their discussion will be moderated by reEarth founder and STB director Sam Duncombe.

“Access to information is important for transparency within governance and to foster public participation in developmental decisions,” said Professor Benjamin, a lecturer in COB’s law program.

Sam-Duncombe

A key focus of the series will be the current lack of government transparency when it comes to the approval of developments – particularly those that are likely to have a negative impact on the surrounding environment.

Professor Benjamin said: “In a small island developing state such as ours, public participation is arguably necessary in order to promote better environmental decision making, and to assist with the delicate balance of sustainable development.”

Duncombe, a longtime environmental advocate said: “I am delighted that COB has partnered with the NGO community in bringing these poignant issues to the public. We look forward to collaborating further with the college to bring current critical issues and knowledgeable speakers to the fore and have the public actively engage in discussing them.”

Ferreira, also an STB director who has worked for decades to bring the law, citizens’ rights and environmental conservation together, said the timing of the lecture series could not be better.

Jeanne Thompson

“Save The Bays has been working very hard to transmit its message of transparency, accountability and environmental responsibility to the next generation of Bahamians, understanding that the fight to preserve the natural treasures of The Bahamas will ultimately fall to them.

“This partnership with COB will bring many bright young minds together with other concerned citizens and experienced advocates, just as the battle for freedom of information is coming to a head.

The lecture comes just days before a Freedom of Information Street Party, to be held on October 25 from 4 – 8pm at Van Brugels on Charlotte Street, hosted by STB and its community partners.

The event is free and will feature live music and food and drink for sale.

“The goal of the street party is to attract a huge turnout and demonstrate to the government that two years is too long to wait for a Freedom of Information Act. I have no doubt that very soon, all the concerned citizens of The Bahamas will join forces to present a unified front to our leaders in demanding transparency, accountability and the rule of law,” said Lindsey McCoy, CEO of STB.

The focus of the second installments in the series, the date of which will soon be announced, will be importance of conducting transparent Environmental Impact Assessments before developments are given the green light, and the critical need for an overarching Environmental Protection Act to preserve the natural resources of The Bahamas for the benefit of future generations.

Founded just over a year ago, Save The Bays has taken The Bahamas by storm. The grassroots effort to protect ecologically significant areas of the archipelago from unregulated development has transformed into a broad-based coalition that is at the forefront of both social and environmental issues. Calling for an environmental protection act, oil spill legislation, the freedom of information act and much needed conchservation laws.

Advocacy Giants Join Forces

Citizens for a Better Bahamas Partners with Save The Bays Fast-growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays has gained a crucial partner in the fight for enhanced civic rights and government transparency in The Bahamas.  Citizens for a Better Bahamas is a non-partisan advocacy group that believes the government should exist to serve the needs of society and provide peace, order and in particular, good governance.  Pictured is a member of Citizens for a Better Bahamas going door-to-door to spread the message of good governance, transparency and accountability.

Citizens for a Better Bahamas Partners with Save The Bays
Fast-growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays has gained a crucial partner in the fight for enhanced civic rights and government transparency in The Bahamas. Citizens for a Better Bahamas is a non-partisan advocacy group that believes the government should exist to serve the needs of society and provide peace, order and in particular, good governance. Pictured is a member of Citizens for a Better Bahamas going door-to-door to spread the message of good governance, transparency and accountability.

Citizens for a Better Bahamas the latest group to partner with Save The Bays as emerging ‘citizens’ rights revolution’ continues the march towards a unified front

 

Fast-growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays has gained a crucial partner in the fight for enhanced civic rights and government transparency in The Bahamas.

Citizens for a Better Bahamas is a non-partisan advocacy group that believes the government should exist to serve the needs of society and provide peace, order and in particular, good governance.

“Citizens for a Better Bahamas is excited to join with Save The Bays as a community partner in our sustained commitment to create an engaged and informed society on matters of national importance,” said the group in an official statement.

“Our ongoing efforts to achieve the enactment of an efficient Freedom of Information Act and other key elements of good governance go hand in hand with the Save The Bays initiatives to improve the processes through which our precious environmental resources are employed and preserved.”

Founded in 2013 by a small group of Bahamians concerned about the government’s plant to impose Value-Added Tax on the nation, The Citizens quickly grew into a formidable voice for change on the national scene, sharing many of the aims and concerns of Save The Bays.

Save The Bays Gains a New Partner in Their Fight for an FOIA The Citizens advocate for the preservation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual; support ethical, accountable and transparent governance.  Founded in 2013 by a small group of Bahamians concerned about the government’s plant to impose Value-Added Tax on the nation, The Citizens quickly grew into a formidable voice for change on the national scene, sharing many of the aims and concerns of Save The Bays. (Photo courtesy of Save The Bays)

Save The Bays Gains a New Partner in Their Fight for an FOIA
The Citizens advocate for the preservation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual; support ethical, accountable and transparent governance. Founded in 2013 by a small group of Bahamians concerned about the government’s plant to impose Value-Added Tax on the nation, The Citizens quickly grew into a formidable voice for change on the national scene, sharing many of the aims and concerns of Save The Bays.
(Photo courtesy of Save The Bays)

The Citizens advocate for the preservation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual; support ethical, accountable and transparent governance; provide platforms to facilitate dialogue between the citizenry and government; deliver broad-based educational campaigns on social, economic, environmental and political issues impacting The Bahamas; and encourage unity, cooperation and collaboration across the Bahamian Diaspora.

“We believe that through the combined efforts of our organizations an even greater impact can be made in the development of a vibrant and relevant civil society sector in the Bahamas, thereby enhancing and broadening the scope of the national dialogue and fostering a culture of cooperation and mutual respect,” the statement said.

“Citizens For A Better Bahamas is encouraged by this partnership with Save The Bays as it demonstrates our commitment to our founding principle, which is a firm belief that: “Together We Are Better! Together We Can Build A Better Bahamas!”

Save The Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy agreed that the two groups are “natural partners” and said the alliance is an important development in the ongoing wave of social activism that has swept across The Bahamas over the last few years.

“In many ways, the progress of the Citizens mirrors that of Save The Bays,” she said. “Both groups were founded only a short time ago, both began with a handful of concerned citizens and a few core issues, and both have grown in both scope and influence, now commanding the attention of thousands of Bahamians.

“A partnership between these two giants of social advocacy, grounded in mutual recognition of the urgent need for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) but also covering many other aspects of the fight for good governance, is a huge step forward in this ongoing citizens’ rights revolution,” she said. “We are thrilled to be working with them on our upcoming Freedom of Information Street Party on October 25 from 4 – 8 at Van Brugels on Charlotte Street in downtown Nassau. The event is free and will have live music and food and drink for sale. The goal of the event is a huge turn out to demonstrate to the Government that two years is too long to wait for a Freedom of Information Act.”

“I have no doubt that very soon, all the concerned citizens of The Bahamas will join forces to present a unified front to our leaders in demanding transparency, accountability and the rule of law.”

Founded just over a year ago, Save The Bays has taken The Bahamas by storm. The grassroots effort to protect ecologically significant areas of the archipelago from unregulated development has transformed into a broad-based coalition that is at the forefront of both social and environmental issues. Calling for an environmental protection act, oil spill legislation, the freedom of information act and much needed conchservation laws.

STB now has more than 500 registered members, almost 17,000 followers on Facebook and has just reached 6,000 signatures on its petition on change.org.

Other community partners include: Abaco Cares, Andros Conservancy and Trust, Bahamas National Trust, Clifton Heritage National Park, Bahamas Reef Environment Foundation, Earth Care, The Island School, Friends of the Environment, reEarth, Save Guana Cay Reef, Responsible Development for Abaco, Swim for Ocean Survival, The Nature Conservancy Northern Caribbean Programme, the West End Eco-Fishing Camp Association and Young Marine Explorers.

Support for Save The Bays continues to grow

Camp participants proudly display a bonefish they caught while learning about this important protected species, which is restricted to catch-and-release fishing throughout The Bahamas. The West End Eco-Fishing Camp Association teaches children about the environment, water safety, boating skills, swimming, fishing and snorkeling in an effort to instill an abiding concern and respect for the environment that they will in turn pass on to future generations.

Camp participants proudly display a bonefish they caught while learning about this important protected species, which is restricted to catch-and-release fishing throughout The Bahamas. The West End Eco-Fishing Camp Association teaches children about the environment, water safety, boating skills, swimming, fishing and snorkeling in an effort to instill an abiding concern and respect for the environment that they will in turn pass on to future generations.

Pioneering eco-fishing camp is the latest addition to grassroots social and environmental coalition that is sweeping The Bahamas

 

 Fast-growing advocacy movement Save The Bays has gained yet another key partner in the fight to protect the unique cultural and environmental heritage of The Bahamas.

            The West End Eco-Fishing Camp Association (WEEFCA) is a community based non-profit organization thatteaches children about the environment, water safety, boating skills, swimming, fishing and snorkeling in an effort to instill an abiding concern and respect for the environment and its preservation.

            “We are delighted to join the list of partners/supporters who stand with Save The Bays in its goal to protect the Bahamian environment for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations,” said Keith Cooper, WEEFCA association’s director.

            “WEEFCA is dedicated to ensuring that the next generation has an opportunity to enjoy the natural resources and beauty of our islands. We look forward to working with Save The Bays to raise awareness of any issue affecting our natural world.”

            Founded in 2008 by Cooper and his wife Linda, WEEFCA has grown from a small eco-fishing camp into a large-scale and comprehensive programme that last year catered to more than 80 children in Grand Bahama.

            Since its inception, more than 250 underprivileged and at-risk youths have graduated as environmental stewards. These children, 8-16 years of age, are encouraged to seek careers in tourism, the marine sciences and the maritime industry.

            “Our primary goal is to deter them from a life of crime and drug abuse,” Cooper said. “By showing them the beauty of their environment and opportunities available to them, right in their back yard, we hope they will become productive citizens.”

            There are two camps WEEFCA runs, the first a 13-weekend spring/summer programme in which children are introduced to nature and plant identification, as well as traditional bush medicines, bird watching and fishing. In addition they are taken on eco-tours, take part in environmental clean-up initiatives and are taught basic first aid, man-over-board rescue operations and swimming.

            The second camp is a 4-week programme that introduces the children to snorkeling, sea life and the beauty of the underwater environment. 

            “We are excited to have such a pioneering youth education group join us in the important work of protecting, promoting, and educating people about our beautiful Bahamian environment,” said Save The Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy.

            “The West End Eco-Fishing Camp shares our philosophy of passing the mantle of environmental conservation on to the next generation, and linking the health of our natural resources to the health of our society as a whole. They are exactly the kind of innovative and forward-thinking group we want to attract to our cause.”

 

            Founded just over a year ago, Save The Bays has taken The Bahamas by storm. The grassroots effort to protect ecologically significant areas of the archipelago from unregulated development has transformed into a broad-based coalition that is at the forefront of both social and environmental issues. Calling for an environmental protection act, oil spill legislation, the freedom of information act and much needed conchservation laws.

            STB now has more than 500 registered members, almost 17,000 followers on Facebook and has just reached 6,000 signatures on its petition on Change.org.

            Other community partners include: Abaco Cares, Andros Conservancy and Trust, Bahamas National Trust, Clifton Heritage National Park, Bahamas Reef Environment Foundation, Earth Care, The Island School, Friends of the Environment, reEarth, Save Guana Cay Reef, Responsible Development for Abaco, Swim for Ocean Survival, The Nature Conservancy Northern Caribbean Programme, and Young Marine Explorers.

Antiquities Chief Says Carleton is ‘Significant Heritage Site’ on Abaco

Originally published on Bahama Pundit

By: Larry Smith

 

TREASURE CAY, Abaco — During a visit to the site of Abaco’s first loyalist settlement last week, Antiquities Corporation chief Dr Keith Tinker and senior archaeologist Dr Michael Pateman retrieved cultural remains for analysis and talked about organising an archaeological survey this summer.

I wrote a column on Carleton following a personal visit earlier this year, and was able to accompany AMMC representatives to the site last week for a brief walkabout. Also present were Tim Blakely of the Treasure Sands Club, which now owns the property; and Matt Claridge of the Abaco Defenders, a public interest group.

Remains of a loyalist-era settlement lie scattered over the landscape just off Treasure Cay Drive, the road that connects to the Abaco highway between the public beach and the adjacent creek. Last week, we collected brick and pottery fragments, bottle glass, and a heavily corroded iron object that looked like a ship’s cleat.

And this week, Tinker confirmed that “there is sufficient evidence for the area to be considered a significant heritage site,” and called for construction to cease pending further investigation.

“I will be writing a report for the Office of the Prime Minister stating this,” he told me. “We also want signage to be installed identifying the area as a heritage site. The evidence is there and the site needs to be researched.”

In the 1980s, Florida archaeologist Robert Carr, historians Steve Dodge and Sandra Riley, civic leader Alton Lowe and others explored the area after researching land grants. They turned up loyalist-era artefacts, including pottery, bottle glass, oven bricks, military tunic buttons, musket balls, sewing implements, shells and animal bone remains. Most of these items are housed at the Albert Lowe museum on Green Turtle Cay.

A bronze plaque on the point just beyond the beach commemorates the 1983 bicentennial of the original loyalist landing on Abaco, but disturbance of this historic area by development has been ongoing for years, with little thought for either the environment or the original settlement.

The Treasure Sands property on which part of Carleton once stood was acquired by an English entrepreneur named Sir Alford Houstoun-Boswall some 30 years ago. In 2010 Sir Alford and his on-site partner Tim Blakely, who is an ex-Royal Navy bodybuilder and celebrity personal trainer, opened a high-end restaurant and clubhouse next to the public beach.

Last year they began clearing the scrub on the creek side of the road to prepare for a small cottage colony and spa that Blakely wants to name Carleton Village. But dredging was halted amid rising public concern over the environmental impact and permitting process. Critics say the developers had planned to dredge a channel along the entire three-mile creek out to Treasure Cay Marina – a charge that Blakely brands as “scaremongering”.

The project was approved by the government last May, subject only to an environmental management plan vetted by the BEST Commission. There was no requirement for an environmental impact assessment, or for an archaeological survey.

This work contravenes the Planning & Subdivisions Act, which requires an EIA for any development on “sensitive lands”, like wetlands. The purpose is to “promote sustainable development in a healthy natural environment”, to “protect and conserve the natural and cultural heritage” of the Bahamas, and to provide for greater transparency in planning and permitting.

These objectives appear to have been ignored. But the proposed development is now going through a local town planning process. And the AMMC has confirmed it as a heritage site.

The Treasure Sands development is the latest effort to capitalise on Treasure Cay’s fabulous three-and-a-half-mile beach. The original second home/marina/golf course resort was launched in the 1950s by the late Leonard Thompson, but is now owned by German-Bahamian investor Ludwig Meister.

Local government officials and property owners began asking for information about the project. A spokesman for the Treasure Cay resort perhaps summed up these objections best: “Treasure Cay Ltd and the Treasure Cay homeowners still do not know exactly what Treasure Sands Club plans to build, except what we have read in the newspapers. Since this project is immediately adjacent to our resort, it would be helpful to know what is planned for the area and also get the right information released to the public.”

When loyalist emigres arrived here from New York in 1783 (after the American Revolution), Carleton Creek opened to the sea where the public beach huts stand today. The anchorage proved unsuitable for large vessels. And in any event, within a year of their arrival most of the settlers revolted and moved 20 miles to the south to found a new settlement at what they called Marsh’s Harbour. Within three years of this split, after several hurricanes, Carleton essentially ceased to exist.

However, the site should be as historically significant to Abaco as Jamestown, Virginia is to Americans. Jamestown was the first English settlement in North America. Over 200 colonists arrived there in 1607 but the settlement was abandoned in the 1690s, after which it was largely forgotten. In recent years, it has become a major archaeological and tourist site. Unfortunately, no effort has been made so far to capitalise on the Carleton settlement since the initial explorations back in the 1980s.

Steve Dodge was the first to identify the Carleton site in 1979, while researching records in Nassau for his book Abaco: History of an Out Island. Carr’s excavations a few years later indicated that the site was a loyalist settlement in the area originally known as Carleton. Survey records were provided to the government at the time, but interest waned and memories faded.

Of course, Carleton was not the first human settlement on Abaco. There were Lucayan Indians living here from about 900 years ago. But this area was settled by 250 whites and free blacks who sailed from New York in 1783. They named their settlement after Sir Guy Carleton, the general who supervised the British evacuation from America, and who carried out the Crown’s promise of freedom to slaves who had joined the British during the war.

Since the 1980s no further archaeological work has been undertaken here. And the recent clearing of some three acres by Treasure Sands caused extensive damage according to Carr, who re-visited the area last November at the invitation of the Abaco Defenders.

The artefacts recovered from the site recently will be sent to the University of Florida for further expert analysis, and an archeological survey may be planned for later this year. it is not just a matter of looking for more bricks and artefacts but also locating house foundations and other features to reconstruct the settlement pattern. This is done by mapping the artifacts and features in place.

During my visit in January, Blakely said he was thinking of setting up a small museum as part of the Treasure Sands development, and would name a restaurant after the New York tavern where the loyalists signed up for their Abaco journey. “We are very open to cooperation with anyone who wishes to survey the site,” he told me at the time.

Clearly, the historical value of the Carleton site can only enhance the proposed development. However, minor construction work on the site continues.

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