My family’s, the Bonds, efforts to have the St. Croix Mahogany properties belonging to us and the U.S. Forest Service revived for seed production continues.
For those readers hearing about us for the first time, our family has maintained a 70 acre Caribbean Mahogany Seed Farm since 1956. My father Richard Bond, nephew of Boeing Aircraft founder William Boeing*, came to St. Croix in 1951 to work in agriculture and the ecology from the Pacific Northwest. He married a local professional woman of color in 1956.
My father had previously helped the U.S. government establish a 147 acre tree farm next door. After a period of considerable activity the tree farm lay dormant many years
and now the two farms are being revived in cooperation with each other. In terms of seed production our best recipient appears to be those concerned with the heavily eroded landscape of Haiti. The species, Sweitenia Mahagoni, has been considered commercially extinct since the turn of the century but is salvaged and available in small quantities especially if the buyer visits.
We have recently contacted the Virgin Islands' chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which has a 24-acre property, the Little Princesse Preserve, which is within sight and a mile of ours. It was once owned by the same owner Emil Switzer. Switzer was in fact the one person most responsible for putting in our mahogany by planting the ridge line, a
subsequent hurricane blew the seeds away.
TNC has a mission to help preserve endangered ecological habitat. The chapter recently acquired a 301 acre property surrounding Jack and Isaac Bays on the east end of St. Croix, near a new hotel and casino by making a down payment and assuming a large mortgage. The casino development made the TNC property threatened and it contained several tropical endangered species.
TNC plays a well known and invaluable role in helping to protect the environment globally. Here in the Caribbean Basin,TNC works in Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. TNC has no ongoing projects in Haiti but it is easy to see how it might get involved in the Caribbean Mahogany Project, which the
Bond/USFS Mahogany Seed Farm supports.
The ecology of the Republic of Haiti is negatively effected by the use of charcoal as fuel. A portion of the Haiti’s rural poor supports itself by wood cutting and charcoal burning.
Inevitably as the other 96 percent of the Republic has been cut over the remote areas, its parks are put under pressure. By creating a buffer zone around the parks it reduces the
likelihood of loss to the parks by the charcoal industry.
Our mahogany seed has the benefit of being easily distributable by plane.
One trans-regional element that could be incorporated would be the staffing of the Mahogany Seed Farm with a rotation of arborists from Haiti and other deforested
communities in the Caribbean. Seed collection can be a tedious chore a few months of which are likely to wear anybody out. The wage differences between Haiti and the Virgin Islands are such that a tour of duty in St. Croix would be an incentive to rural involvement in Haitian reforestation.
Efficiency of operation in the production of charcoal is another area in which St. Croix’s Caribbean Mahogany Reforestation Project could help Haiti. Part of the plans for Estate Thomas is the creation of a picnic area. If it is to include hearths, as does the existing
picnic area at Cramer's Park, it will need fuel. As pits remain the norm in Haiti’s mountains the fuel could come from a demonstration retort.
Estate Little Princesse is conveniently located and has nice grounds but it is not a priority ecological site. One building, the overseers house, is used for TNC chapter meetings. Another, the greathouse, is slated for use in education. There are several other buildings: wind and steam mill ruins, a former rum distillery and the remains of the laborers’ quarters.
Now that TNC has taken on Jacks and Isaac Bay the concentration of the chapter is being pulled there. The Little Princesse Preserve has the potential of being a tourist attraction.
The island of St. Thomas has such an attraction built around a similar former sugar estate grounds combining a restaurant, classrooms, artist studios and galleries — Tillet Gardens.
I am making a proposal that as we the Bond family are coventuring with the USFS accepting their arborist and management plan to produce mahogany seed we should
offer an easement to TNC in exchange for a leasehold interest in Little Princesse to generate mutual revenue. Seminars could also be accommodated, hotels are
close by.
If you feel that this letter might interest someone else involved in S. Mahagoni (Cuban Mahogany) whether as antiques, woodworking or reforestation please forward it
and have them add their name to our mailing list.

Richard Bond Jr., Agent

Richard M Bond Estate

Tel: 1-781-648-2397

[email protected]

* Bill Boeing was married to Beulah Potter whose family took in my grandmother Amy Louise Burnett (Bond) daughter of Renton Wa. developer Charles H. Burnett when her mother died.
The Nature Conservancy Little Princess Preserve
USFS International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Haitian Park Protection and Reforestation Overview
Excerpt(and commentary)from the National Geographic

Tillett Gardens & Art Galleries


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