TDC weighs in on potential St. Vincent ‘mothballing’

St. Vincent
Special to The Star
Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 09:27 AM.

St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge is a part of the brand for the Gulf County Tourist Development Council, board member Tony Whitfield said Tuesday.

As such the county’s agency on tourism has a vested interest in the future and status of St. Vincent Island.

During its regular monthly meeting the TDC advisory council passed a resolution to reach out and join the lobbying campaign from the Board of County Commissioners requesting no change to the current status of St. Vincent.

The concern, as the BOCC heard more than a month ago after which the board wrote a letter to pertinent federal officials, is that St. Vincent could be “mothballed” by the federal government.

That would likely mean a reduction in management of the island, one of the last remaining areas in the country where wildlife has not been impacted by vehicular traffic, said Marie Romanelli, who is partner with her husband in a shuttle service from Indian Pass to the island and is a member of a non-profit support group for the island.

The federal term for the action is putting the island in “custodial status”.

Staff would be reduced to two employees – from seven just five years ago – and officials with the U.S. Department of Interior have said the cuts would impact management of the island.

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