Hilary Lohmann - NOAA Coral Management Fellow, USVI
In St. Croix, Lohmann is working with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to expand the economic and outreach capacity of the East End Marine Park. She is also working to revive Friends of the East End Marine Park to promote responsible recreation through fund-raising, citizen science, and local partnerships. Her fellowship plan assists in building a foundation to help the Friends thrive, with better organization and engagement on conservation activities long into the future.
Hilary’s projects include:
Friends of STXEEMP organizational development, where local volunteers meet weekly to support better park management and outreach. I act as a project manager, facilitating group activities and administration while ensuring organic and sustainable group development that will outlast my presence. The group is submitting an application for non-profit status to better organize volunteers’ efforts and to create a financial organ that can receive donations and request funds in support of STXEEMP programs.
- Turtle nest monitoring patrols where Friends of STXEEMP volunteers conduct weekly daytime patrols of three east end beaches to record the number of (green and hawksbill) sea turtle nests during high nesting season (August 1-October 31). The patrols are an expansion of partner NGO’s (St Croix Environmental Association and The Nature Conservancy) existing programs to provide greater understanding of how many turtles nest on the beaches of the East End Marine Park. Weekly patrollers will also help to improve the regularity of human presence on nesting beaches, which may discourage poaching and other illegal activities.
- Responsible recreation sign campaign, where Friends of STXEEMP are designing a set of signs for the bays of the EEMP. Each sign will stand at the entrance to the beach and identify the bay by name and its location within the park boundaries. The signs also display badges of responsible recreational activity yay’s (snorkeling, shoreline fishing where allowable) and nay’s (no taking shells, corals, etc., no littering, no fishing where prohibited).
- Derelict boat surveys with DPNR and Friends of STXEEMP , who have teamed up with CRABBS, the local recreational dive club, to conduct in-water searches and assessments for sunken vessels in the EEMP. CRABBS divers volunteer their time, gear (dive gear and cameras), and skills with direction and oversight from EEMP management. The group has found two vessels not seen since their sinking five or so years ago and are still searching for a third. One vessel dragged 1.5km from where it sank in 2012, highlighting the need to address the issue of sunken vessels as marine debris and hazards.
- Working with Sandwatch beach profiling. Sandwatch is an international program that provides protocol and guidelines to measure beach profiles. Monitoring beach faces over time provides quantifiable data to support the anecdotal evidence of sea level rise.