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Conservation and community benefit: Conservation information center at Keys Beach

Date Approved: 07.2011

St. Kitts, one of two islands in the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, is home to 34,930 people. Several populations of sea turtles–among the world’s most endangered species–use the island’s sandy beaches for nesting. Preserving these nesting beaches is vitally important, because female turtles typically return to the beach of their birth to lay their eggs. The St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) works to protect sea turtles and their habitats, including nesting beaches. It focuses on critically endangered leatherback and hawksbill turtles and the endangered green turtle.

SKSTMN has several conservation efforts underway, including an annual Sea Turtle Camp for youth, ecotourism programs, and regular beach cleanups. It also started a “bottle beads” program, which trains local entrepreneurs to make jewelry from glass collected on nesting beaches. Proceeds are used to further sea turtle conservation. Seacology partnered with SKSTMN in the bottle beads program.

Seacology is again joining with SKSTMN to establish a conservation information center at Keys Beach. The center will give both visitors and locals valuable information about sea turtles, the coastal ecosystem, and the importance of conservation. The center will also be a resource for teachers and school groups, provide shelter for researchers and tour guides, and serve as a showcase for the bottle beads merchandise. Seacology is funding construction of the center, which will use low-impact building materials and methods.

Project Updates

December 2019

This project has been long frustrated by bureaucratic delay, but construction of the interpretive center is now set to begin in January 2020. The schedule is tied to construction of a government-funded sea turtle hospital next door, which will allow our partner’s site to get water and electricity connections.

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May 2019

Good news: a main water line has been extended to the site, and our partner has all the materials it needs to make a connection. Once that is done, they can start work on the foundation.

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December 2018

This project has been frustrated by bureaucratic delay. After finally getting necessary permissions from the government, a contractor was hired. But despite many attempts, our nonprofit partner has not succeeded in getting water or electricity connections, which means that construction cannot start. They are now exploring the possibility of moving a 900-gallon water tank to the site instead of waiting for a connection to the public water system. They should be able to get an electricity connection when the building now under construction next door—by the Environment Department—gets its connection.

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January 2017

Construction of the interpretive center is ready to begin, and a contractor has been hired. The structural work and roof will be done first so that the building can be used during the coming leatherback turtle season, and the rest should be finished by July.

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May 2016

The four shipping containers that will be used for the building are on their way to St. Kitts and expected to arrive soon, according to Seacology Field Representative Mykl Clovis Fuller. The project organizers also expect government authorization to get power and water to the site and hope to have everything in place for the annual summer Sea Turtle Camp.

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January 2016

After a mid-2015 survey of the plot where the building will be constructed, the Department of Sustainable Development requested another survey, for a smaller plot. The Department approved it in December and granted a 2500-square-foot plot for the building on Keyes Beach. According to Field Representative Mykl Clovis Fuller, meetings with the development team and architect were planned for January, and the goal for finishing construction is April 2016, in time for turtle nesting season.

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May 2015

After long bureaucratic delays, full government approval has been given to the project concept, and the survey department has since made site visits to demarcate the boundaries of the plot on which the building will be constructed. According to Field Representative Mykl Clovis Fuller, the final plans are awaiting review, which should be forthcoming very soon. Construction should begin in the near future.

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January 2007

Groundbreaking for the project will take place in January, with the project slated for completion by June 2012.

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Full or partial funding for this project provided by CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank.