Feb. 7, 2006 – Tuesday was perfect tree-planting weather. A light mist blew across the hillside as federal and local officials helped to plant a lignum vitae tree at St. John School on Gifft Hill.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency planted the tree at St. John School to celebrate the agency's 35th anniversary.
"We don't have to worry about watering it," the school's math teacher, Doug Bradley said.
EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said that the agency picked the school because it was the only high school on St. John and it had a close proximity to the National Park.
The school's co-administrator, Scott Crawford, noted that although the school and the adjacent Bellevue Village affordable housing community were the biggest developments on St. John, just over his shoulder stood the National Park.
"No place epitomizes the struggle between development and the park better than this," he said.
He said that the words "development" and "park" do not have to be mutually exclusive terms.
Crawford, echoing Steinberg's statements, said that he sees a link between education and protecting the environment. He called education the best way to protect the environment.
Steinberg spoke about the strides made by EPA since its inception in the 1970s.
"The environment was in very bad shape. It was pretty obvious there was a serious need for remediation," he said.
He blamed the problems on industry and construction.
Steinberg said that environmental protection can go hand in hand with economic development.
Steinberg told the school's students gathered on the building's lower level for the tree planting ceremony that they were in charge of protecting the environment in the future.
"You're going to be the trustees of the environment," he said.
Steinberg, the students and others at the ceremony recited a pledge to protect the territory's environment.
"I reaffirm my commitment to protect the environment of the U.S. Virgin Islands, including protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, our aquifers and our coastal waters " they said.
EPA spokesman Bonnie Bellow said Steinberg would tour St. John. She said he had already visited St. Thomas on this trip and would see St. Croix on a subsequent visit.
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