Bahamas Punch columnist Nicki Kelly reports coral disease killings corals off Bakers Bay golf course.
Locals have been reporting Bakers Bay employees in orange hazmat suits spraying the golf course early in the mornings, adjacent to the golf course. In the developer's EIA, the danger of fertilizers is mentioned:
Golf course fertilizers are notorious for creating a set of conditions unfavorable to corals. These fertilizers have high levels of chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorous, which spurs the growth of algae in the water, stressing the corals, and making them more susceptible to disease.
July 8, 2009 | Bakers Bay
I just received this image of Great Guana Cay taken at 24,000 feet. It is the best image yet explaining the unbelievable hubris of Discovery Land Company and the University of Miami scientists who, in their EIA for the development, wrote, "The Developers believe that good environmental stewardship will add value to the community, as well as protect property from storm damage and erosion. The Project is compatible with the
pattern of development of second homes and vacation homes throughout the cays and mainland of Abaco."
For those of you who are not that familiar with Great Guana Cay's development issue, let me explain a few things. The orientation of this image is not exactly north to south. You can visit my Guana Cay map to compare.
In the upper edge of this photo is the Atlantic Ocean. Hugging the Atlantic side of the ocean is the Guana Cay coral reef, which is part of the Abaco Barrier Reef. The swollen end of the island is where you can see a golf course and home lots being constructed. This area is where the Guana Cay coral reef is its most magnificent, and may be the best or second best reef - in terms of sheer diversity, coral sizes and overall reef size, that exists in the Abacos.
The rest of the denuded areas are the rest of Bakers Bay Club; more home lots and the marina itself. This marina was dug from porous limestone. Pollutants from the marina will have a quick path to the reef.
The sedimentation, nutrient, pollutant and silting issues being created by this development are very clear by the scope and size of land removal occuring at a fast pace. It is in the interest of global conservation and the preservation of reef ecosystems to have construction at Bakers Bay halted as soon as possible. Today is Day 2 in the Privy Council court. Godspeed, reef defenders.
July 4, 2009 | whereabouts
Bakers Bay Club and Environmental Reporting
In an earlier post, we discussed how all of the local's concerns about Bakers Bay Club's harm to the local environment, culture and economy have begun to actually happen. As the Guana Cay residents are only a few days away from their court date at Privy Council, I thought we should take a look at Discovery Land Company's early promises of environmental monitoring and reporting. Have they followed through with monitoring and reporting as established by early promises and references in the EIA? Was the promise of environmental monitoring and reporting a sham? Read on and decide for yourself.
What is Environmental Monitoring and Reporting?
Environmental monitoring is the act of having an independent team of scientists monitor the quality of an environment; ultimately the review and publication of monitoring results is to satisfy some objective. When a developer who is engaged in practices that could harm a local environment is required or volunteers to have their practices monitored, the idea is that this monitoring and reporting serves to make the affected community aware of potential incidents, to keep them involved in the development process, and ultimately, to provide a check and balance, a motivator, to keep the developer's development practices in check.
What were the Guana Cay Locals Promised?
According to the developer's EIA, this quote summarizes what Discovery Land Company promised:
With the Great Guana Cay Foundation, the Environmental management team will work to develop strategies and scope of work for implementing:
• Educational outreach programs and training programs
• Clear management and project communications and reporting
• Independent reporting and verification
The course of development, the results of the monitoring programs and any incidental occurrences will be documented on a regular basis. Information gained and processed will be reported directly to all necessary government agencies and stakeholders. A defined liaison will be identified with this responsibility.
Unfortuantely, none of the above has happened. If there was a monitoring team on site, there no longer is. Kathleen Sealey, who was once in charge of the project, is no longer involved, and Earthwatch, which once helped with environmental monitoring, has not visited the island since about 2006.
Locals have been denied any reporting whatsoever. Guana Cay residents have never seen any incident reporting, and they have been denied all the monitoring and reporting activities the developer promised.
Discovery Land Company stated that a Ms. Shenique Albury was the representative between Discovery Land Company and the locals, but few people know who this person is, and she has not been on Great Guana Cay since 2005, at which time she left to complete her studies.
Great Guana Cay Foundation
was Developer's Invention
Discovery Land Company created a website that was designed to look like the developer was gearing up for an extensive monitoring and reporting function. Non-functioning links to environmental reports and web cams would allow all affected parties the opportunity to be involved and notified of construction practices and their consequences onsite. The website was designed to look independent of the developer themselves, as if a third party was responsible for independent monitoring. The website, which has not been updated since November 24, 2005, or almost four years ago, was a complete sham, designed as marketing tool to make it look like Discovery Land Company intended to provide incident monitoring and reporting to the local community.
WebCam as Example
Kathleen Sealey writes in the developer's EIA, "THE MOST CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY TO BE USED ON THIS PROJECT IS ON-SITE “WEB-CAM”, USED TO MONITOR VARIOUS PHASES OF CONSTRUCTION. Real time web-camera will help prevent problems from occurring as well as help guide restoration of “errors”.
Of course, the web-cam has not been implemented. There is a WEBCAM tab at the Great Guana Cay Foundation website, but it is not functional. Locals were led to believe that the University of Miami monitoring team would allow transparent access to all construction activities. In fact, construction activities are so secretive that local's are often kept off public beaches near the development.
Without monitoring, it is all but certain that Bakers Bay is covering up oil spills, driving over sea turtle nesting grounds, planting exotic plant species, dumping pesticides into the coral reef and so forth. It is a shame, but hopefully the lesson will serve other local groups throughout the Caribbean basin that promises are often just tools to make megadevelopments more palatable. All too often, when the developer is unethical, monitoring and reporting promises are just gateways to getting the development approved by required authorities.
Read the University of Miami EIA here.
Read the University of Miami EMP here.
May 28, 2009 | Bakers Bay
Bakers Bay Memo Reveals Speeding Issues
Over the years, I've been reporting (and have witnessed firsthand) the reckless driving of Bakers Bay employees at the settlement in Great Guana Cay. I have always argued that you judge a development by how they fit in with and assit the local community - this memo confirms the disregard that many Bakers Bay employees have for the local community at Great Guana Cay:
May 8, 2009 | Bakers Bay
Captain Laments Bakers Bay Changes
This is a guest essay from a sailboat Captain who frequents the Abacos.
Fifteen years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to travel through the Abacos with my parents on their sailboat. I spent the entire three weeks of my college Christmas break exploring the Bahamas, sailing from island to island and getting to know the Bahamas for the first time. Something about that trip hooked me for good, the remainder of my days sitting in class were spent daydreaming of the islands and their magical waters.
During that particular trip I had sailed with them to Eleuthera where we spent a week or so before heading to the Abacos where I spent the rest of my vacation. The Bahamas at that time had a feeling of being detached from the rest of the world. The people who called these islands home and the few visitors who made the trek here were rewarded with some of the most unspoiled and pristine ocean ecosystems on Earth. It was this natural beauty that lured me into fantasizing about returning to these islands on my own boat and with more time.
That time came a few years later when I made the commitment to a vessel of my own and a commitment to explore the Bahamas without time constraints. I invited my girlfriend, now wife to join me and after a yard sale she flew down with a one way ticket. I picked her up in Marsh Harbour, Abaco and for the next two months we slowly made circles around all the islands of the Abacos. We lit the famous lighthouse in Hope Town on Elbow Cay, walked the quaint streets of Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay, bought a used snorkel from Troy at Dive Guana on Great Guana Cay, and spent countless days snorkeling the barrier reef that lies just offshore all the islands.
Since we were on a shoestring budget with a focus on making our experience last as long as possible we got most of our food from the sea. I had some fishing experience, but after going hungry too many times I discovered getting in the water and spearfishing was a much more effective and proficient form of providing protein. This experience also made both of us somewhat of marine biologist of a sort. Jeannette did not carry a spear, but she was a quick learner and would help me spot prime fish or the telltale antenna of a lobster hiding under a ledge. With more and more time spent in the water we were soon able to quickly discern what certain ecosystems held as far as fish, lobster, conch, and the health of the reef. On this trip we ended up spending seven months sailing through the Bahamas all the way down to Staniel Cay in the Exumas covering roughly five hundred miles within the Bahamas and fifteen islands.
Photo by Whitney S.
Since then my wife and I have sailed an additional 10,000 miles through the Bahamas and once to the Leeward and Windward islands of the Eastern Caribbean. We have first hand witnessed the difference between a thriving reef and one that more resembles a desert graveyard. With each returning trip to the Abacos we have seen the changes both on land and below the surface.
On Great Guana Cay we remember anchoring in Bakers Bay by ourselves, walking our dog through the ruins of the Disney cruise ship depot. Even though they were ruins, the style and motif was that of the islands, somewhat of a Robinson Crousoe theme. Thatch roof buildings that blended with the landscape. Small boardwalks and dirt paths weaved among the casuarinas and palm groves. We would pack a lunch and enjoy the shade of the woods and marvel at how fast nature could reclaim its lost property. It was also a prime location to access the reefs just around on the ocean side. A short dingy ride from the anchorage around the north end of the island lay some of the most prolific reef in the Caribbean. Magnificent staghorn coral gardens, elkhorn coral, and giant brain coral make the reef an astonishing labyrinth of underwater habitat.
Coral formations that are scattered across the sugar sand bottom in thirty feet of water and reach to within feet of the surface provide an beautifully balanced ecosystem for a plethora of fish. With water so clear spotting fish on the bottom thirty feet below allows you so observe the wonders of this underwater world in incredible detail. Returning to the miles of beach that make up the shore at the Bakers Bay anchorage after a day of snorkeling the reefs we clean the fish and start a fire as the sun begins to settle in the late afternoon. As other sailors would share this paradise, potluck dinners would form on the beach of Bakers Bay. As the rum and stories flowed into the night around a small fire on the beach friendships were formed in a setting that makes you love life the way you wish everyone could. It was all so simple and free where if you took the time to find the spot you could experience nature at its best.
After years of finding these amazing anchorages and falling in love with all that is provided for us on this beautiful planet we have come to realize how rare these areas are. Not only are these magical destinations far and few between, but they are also very delicate and complex. What makes the Bakers Bay area the ideal tropical paradise with its miles of pristine beach, lush palm groves, and world class reefs are the lure for commercial development. The last time we sailed past Bakers Bay we nearly cried at the destruction of this piece of paradise. Although you can still legally anchor in Bakers Bay it is no longer a place where one would care to spend much time.
With their private dock and ferry service shuttling high paying guests to their resort the once ideal anchorage has been bought out by visitors striving to experience the Bakers Bay area how it once was. It's odd how in the attempt to develop and exploit this area for the natural attractions that were the lure in the beginning they are now destroying their most valuable resource. The argument that they are bringing jobs and money to the local population is turning a blind eye to the fact that without preserving the resources already in place, they are taking jobs from the local fishermen, destroying the dive industry as the reefs are being killed from the golf course runoff, and ultimately leaving an ugly scar on the land and in the eye of the locals. Great Guana Cay where Bakers Bay is, is too small of an island to support this scale of development and the ecosystem and locals will be the ones to pay the price.
Captain Brian Pucella
March 15, 2009 | Bakers Bay
Aerial Photos Reveal State of
Development at Bakers Bay
March 2009: an image of the golf course, which is being constructed feet away from the coral reef.
March 2009: the marina, which was supposed to have opened in November 2008, appears underwhelming in comparison to the watercolors depicting it. More imortantly, the marina butts directly up against the island's coral reef - a recipe for ecological disaster.
March 2009: the marina with a view of the deepwater channel. By cutting the island in half, critics worry that without the protective mangroves that existed here before, a strong hurricane could rip the island in two.
March 2009: image reveals massive terraforming of native habitat.
March 9, 2009 | Bakers Bay
Bakers Bay Fails to Donate Full Sum to Bahamas National Trust
In 2007, controversial megadevelopment golf developer Discovery Land Company offered $1.2 million to Bahamas National Trust.
Bahamas National Trust is the only private environmental organization in the world that is also charged with the country's primary environmental challenges by the government itself. It is an unusual relationship, and while the federal government of the Bahamas only offers the organization a pittance, Bahamas National Trust needs to rely on outside donors.
The move was vehemently criticized by environmental groups:
Mangrove Action Project Article on Donation
Freeport News on Bakers Bay 'Blatant Bribe'
Notes from the Road has held for several years that Bakers Bay Club does not hold up to the donations that it so publicly declares. Here is another example. Bakers Bay Club indeed donated to Bahamas National Trust, but only a quarter of what they said they would this year. Bakers Bay just announced they were donating $100K - a quarter of the publicized amount for the year.
January 14, 2009 | Bakers Bay
Bakers Bay Club Marina Opening Delayed
According to the latest issue of The Abaconian, delays in Bakers Bay Club opening its marina continue. Although the marina was advertised with a November 2009 date, it has now been pushed back to April 2009. That is a six month delay on a flagship launch.
January 14, 2009 | Bakers Bay
Blogosphere Negative on Bakers Bay Club
The cruising world has its share of bloggers and other online users. We track how the blogosphere responds to news about Great Guana Cay and particularly about the Bakers Bay Club. Repeatedly, we find almost unanimous disapproval of the Bakers Bay Club. A few recent examples:
1. Hockey star Gary Aldcorn, who played 226 games in the National Hockey League for the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, and Toronto Maple Leafs, is now part of the cruising community. In his lyrics, he laments the Bakers Bay Club.
South through the isles of Abaco
Manjack, Green Turtle – and away we go
The weather’s fine around the Whale
Hit the sea of Abaco – and away we sail
Visit Guana and Treasure Cay
Rue the day they sold Baker’s Bay
2. A boating account of visiting Bakers Bay
Bakers Bay was a disappointment. It is now the playground of the rich and selfish and piggish. Two mega yachts anchored right in the channel depicted in Steve Dodges Cruising Guide to the Abacos - we sailed between them. They had all their boat toys out -- runabouts, wave runners, skidoos, etc and just being a nuisance.
December 4, 2008 | Bakers Bay
Notes from the Road in
Vanity Fair, January 2009
Vanity Fair writer Punch Hutton erred in a November 2008 Vanity Fair article when he did a write-up touting the Bakers Bay Golf megadevelopment. He erroneously called Guana Cay's reef the third largest in the world. This was not a typo. The idea that the Abaco barrier reef is the world's third largest is a colloquial misbelief that gets passed around among tourists in the Northern Bahamas. How did this misnomer get passed on to Punch Hutton? Probably from the marketing material that was sent to him by the Bakers Bay Club. The marketing folks at the Bakers Bay Club are notorious for passing on fibs and mistruths to editors in an effort to make their golf megadevelopment sound better. I have also written to Southern Boating and Links Magazine (see article here) correcting errors that were likely directly passed on from marketing material to press.
Why are travel sections of magazines so prone to errors?
Why do consumers of travel journalism let travel writers get away with so much? In an age when so many developing country issues and so many environmental issues are directly tied to tourism, travel writers need to be held to a higher standard.
I am grateful to Vanity Fair for not only printing my letter to the editor, but for doing such a great job in fact-checking my own letter. The letters department graciously allowed me to prove all my claims by citing and allowing experts to explain my claims. But Vanity Fair left out the most important part - the fact that writer Punch Hutton made such a large editorial error. That's fine with me - letters' sections notoriously need to edit letters down in size. So I'll make the correction here:
Punch Hutton falsely claimed that Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club sits on the third largest reef in the world. This is far from the truth. Here are some that are much bigger: The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia is the largest in the world. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world. The New Caledonia Barrier Reef is almost a thousand miles long. And the Andros Barrier Reef, in the Southern Bahamas, is considered the third largest reef in the world.
That doesn't take away from the Abaco barrier reef. It is quite large, and of extreme importance to the future of West Indies marine conservation. It is also stunningly beautiful. This reef's apex of diversity is off the edge of the tiny island of Great Guana Cay. Specifically, just off the shore from the Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club golf course.
Oh, you want to read my letter to the editor? Pick up January 2009 Vanity Fair.
August 12, 2008 | Bakers Bay
Open Letter to Megastar Cher
from Great Guana Cay
After megastar escapes from 'Moonscape' Bakers Bay Club
We are the Bahamian citizens of Great Guana Cay, which you visited last month.
Our ancestors have lived on this island for 200 years. We are proud of our tiny island, with its smiling people, lovely visitors, its blue water, its white beaches.
The decisions Hollywood celebrities make affects wildlife and small countries immensely. Megastar Cher, after visiting Bakers Bay Club, realized the development was an environmental catastrophe.
We are proud of our old loyalist architecture, of our diverse and colorful settlement, the gardens we create, our lovely moon-shaped harbor. We are especially proud to have one of the Caribbean's most spectacular coral reefs - stunning elkhorn and staghorn structures which are home to brilliant angelfish, wily soldierfish, shimmering sardines in our networks of underwater caves. We are proud of our many species of sharks. We hold especially dear our three species of sea turtles that nest on our shores each year. Their offspring will travel the world by ocean current, but they will have been born here, and they will return here.
We are proud of our migrating birds – dozens of species of warbler, bright marsh birds feathered in green, blue and ochre, kestrels, bananaquits, even glossy ibises. We are proud, even, of our mangroves and our deep-rich forest, filled with delicate orchids and primeval bromeliads, and flowers found in few other places around the world. This jungly place produces plenty of mosquitoes, yes, but the mangroves that sustain mosquitoes are necessary as part of our unique ecosystem. Mangroves are the nursery of the coral reef, and mangroves also keep our island intact.
And, it takes a sort of unique person to like a place like Great Guana Cay. It's not for everyone, and we've understood that ever since our ancestors toiled for conch and sisal, and settled in this distant outpost of the western hemisphere. Small spaces, and particularly small islands, make for unique living conditions - it boxes some people in. We thrive here because we love our neighbors and because we see the ocean as part of our backyard, not as our limits.
We understand that you had a horrible time at the Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club development property, which is under construction on the northeastern end of our tiny island. We agree, what you described as a moonscape used to be our island’s mangroves before it was slated to become a golf course and marina to the rich and famous.
You are not alone. For three years, we, the Bahamian residents of this island, have been fighting the Bakers Bay Club on the grounds that it will devastate our sea turtle nesting grounds, our coral reef and our mangroves. Yes, we don't like mosquitoes either. But we'll take them over the devastation of our island, our way of life, our children’s future and our economy. If celebrities like you buy into the Baker’s Bay Club, our children will have no hope. The Sierra Club, the Mangrove Action Network, the Global Coral Reef Alliance, all Caribbean turtle conservation organizations, researchers from NOAA and marine institutions around the world, as well as Jean-Michel Cousteau, the world's most revered marine conservation figure, all support our efforts to save Guana Cay reef. You can learn more at saveguanacayreef.com
Please do not consider your time at Bakers Bay representative of the Bahamian experience, and particularly, of the Great Guana Cay experience.
Your fans in Great Guana Cay,
Save Guana Cay Reef Association LTD
Great Guana Cay
July 27, 2008 | Bakers Bay
Megastar Cher Rescued from 'Moonscape' Bakers Bay Club
Dozens of eyewitnesses helped us piece together a sensational rescue from last week. Pop superstar Cher was invited to tour the Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club. The Bakers Bay staff rented a house for her to stay in the Orchid Bay development area, on the south end of the island.
But, according to local eyewitnesses, Cher complained about the Bakers Bay Club, citing that the place looked like a moonscape, without any trees. She was outraged by the mosquitoes, flies and other critters at Bakers Bay. Enraged at the environmentally irresponsible development, Cher demanded a hundred-and-fifty foot yacht rescue her from Great Guana Cay immediately. Getting such a yacht proved impossible for the Bakers Bay staff, who showed visible stress at Cher's demands.
Cher was livid. At Docksiders, a beautiful upscale restaurant overlooking the harbour, she refused food or drink. Apparently, her horrible experience at Bakers Bay had sent her into an understandable shock. As the Bakers Bay staff were unable to meet her request for a hundred-and-fifty foot yacht, the sea plane owned by the Miami dolphins owner made a dramatic entrance at Fisher's Bay. Cher was quickly rescued from Bakers Bay. The sea plane launched from the bay, and Cher was gone. She was taken to Harbour Island. Far to the south of the Abacos, Harbour Island is an established wealthy hideaway for stars. No mosquitoes there. And no environmentally irresponsible moonscape either.
The Cher incident is another in a growing list of celebrity mishaps and embarrassments at Bakers Bay.
February 18, 2008 |
February 18, 2008
Still No Transparency, No Accountability
Three years later, Bakers Bay Club offers little of the transparency recommended in their own Environmental Impact Assessment. Bakers Bay Club gives the appearance of being open and transparent about their plans, but if you examine their claims and the EIA itself, you will find that over the past three years, most of the critical information is still missing.
- After receiving criticism about the lack of marine information in the EIA, the developer was expected to produce a new, revised EIA. That EIA was apparently never actually created. The official EIA is still the original one.
- The EIA makes several suggestions for involving the community and environmental organizations in reporting. Those suggestions were never made, even the most important ones, as charged by the EIA. Although Livingston Marshall, VP of Environment and Community Affairs at Bakers Bay, stated such efforts would be put in place, they never were.
- The environmental monitoring team allegedly produces a report card for the development on a monthly basis, but that report card has never been made available to the public.
- Primary questions about the developers plans for hurricane protection, wastewater treatment, removing nitrogen from the water - have never been answered. It is widely understood that the developer has not yet figured these parts out.
January 01, 2010 | February 3, 2008
Bakers Bay EIA Addendum
I want to share this addendum to the Bakers Bay EIA with you. Three years later, this addendum is even more unbelievable to read than when it was originally discovered. I am leaving it in its original format with the University of Miami logo on it.
This document helps clarify the position of the environmental monitoring team for the project, and how they admit in these notes that they are subjects of an experiment, and the ultimate environmental effects of this development are simply an experiment for the benefit of science. This is the great irony of the Guana Cay debacle. Foreign scientists can establish a monetary relationship with a foreign developer in a country hungry for jobs, and completely shirk the local community and its environment for the supposed interests of the greater good. This reminds us why Great Guana Cay is an issue about the importance of locals as being the most important components of their environmental and cultural future. Smaller units - families and communities - are the ones who understand and are closest to the long-term future of their home.
The leader of the Environmental Management Team which created the document below represents a minority in the conservation community which arrogantly assumes otherwise.
I am also adding photographs from August 2007 into the text. The highlighting is my own.
CHAPTER 9: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN
The involvement of ecologists and a research team is critical to understanding the longterm impacts to the island environment. The Passerine at Abaco presents a great opportunity to local and international naturalists to study first hand the impact of various practices, and see the long-term implications of development. The promotion of Passerine at Abaco as a case study site for small island development will encourage independently funded research on the island, and in adjacent marine environments. Plan Components and Overview The Passerine at Abaco is a unique development project in the transparency of its site management and environmental reporting. The project will be an experiment in sustainability for small island developments. Clearly, local residents or Bahamians in general would not appreciate being the site of "experimental" approaches to development of their natural resources, but the aim of the experiment is to provide a truthful documentation of the real ecological costs.
Much of Great Guana Cay's mangrove habitat is gone, and in its place, a dangerous marina is being constructed, which is expected to leach nutrients into the coral reef (you can see coral structures in the lower righthand of this image). Courtesy SGCR
The Great Guana Cay site is already severely impacted by previous development at the "Treasure Island Site". (Erik: this was true, but the Disney/Premiere/Meister environmental damage to the site was a fraction of the Discovary Land Company danger to the site, and is essentially an irrelevant point.) The appendices include a section of news articles from 1988 and 1989 on the controversies that surrounded the original construction of the cruise ship resort site and approach channel. Without legal action against the present owner for mitigation costs, the ecological health of the property will continue to decline. There are significant environmental issues associated withUnknown material dumped in two landfills Invasive alien plants displacing native vegetation
Ã‚€¢ Invasive alien insects (Lobate Lac Scale Insect) impacting the health of native trees, especially after hurricane disturbances.
Erosion of beaches from the removal of dunes and natural vegetation along
Bakers Bay Erosion of beaches from Australian pine (invasive alien plants)
Ã‚€¢ Accumulation of trashes and unregulated dumping
There is no stewardship of the natural resources or management of the property of this time. Many people, both local residents and visiting yachtsmen, reportedly use the property, yet no person or organization takes responsibility for management or stewardship of the resources. (Erik: the use of the land was minimal; at most for crabbing, at worst wandering sailors and children littering along the paths) As land becomes increasingly scarce in the Abacos (and all of The Bahamas), there needs to be an overall land use plan that sets aside natural areas for tourism, recreation, and conservation of the natural heritage of the country.
The Marina is being built dangerously close to the coral reef.
This Environmental Management Plan (EMP) outlines four components that set a model for private land stewardship in the country, particularly for private resort communities with technologies and protocols appropriate for use in national parks and publicly-held lands (Crown land). Four facets of the EMP designed to disseminate information, define procedures and accountability and coordinate all necessary personnel and stakeholders include:
Bakers Bay Club EIA - Addendums 131
Part 1 131
5.) Clearly articulated and measurable environmental goals
It is often very difficult to document the real ecological costs of development until many years after the developers have completed the job and left. The long-term environmental impacts pose a significant financial burden to residents of the resort community. For example, resort development in the Florida Keys commonly underestimated the flushing rates of residential finger canal systems. Twenty to thirty years after the construction, residents are faced with very expensive mitigation options to improve near shore and canal water quality, with millions of dollars slated for advanced wastewater treatment plants, backfilling canals, and re-landscaping canal margins.
The developers have shown an unusual willingness to work with researchers and scientists to better understand the environment of Guana Cay. It is common for development and resort companies to say, "we adhere to the highest environmental standards", but what those standards are, and how appropriate standard industry practices are for small carbonate islands is yet to be documented. There is an opportunity with the Passerine at Abaco project to complete an initial ecological assessment of the property prior to development, and set measurable environmental goals. The goals can help both the development team and scientists understand the economic "break points" in small island development.
Are golf courses always the "high impact" component of the resort? How can the known impacts be
6.) Educational outreach programs and training material for
a. Contractors, construction crews and all on-site workers
b. Local communities
c. Regional Non-government environmental organizations (e.g. Friends of
d. Local businesses and business leaders
7.) Clear management and project communications and reporting with
a. Published "Chain of Command" for site management
b. Documentation and accountability to EIA policies
c. Incident reporting and management plan
d. Clear reporting responsibilities
8.) Independent reporting and verification, with monitoring data available in a "score
reduced? The EMP will address the critical need to have measurable environmental goals assessed in an objective and independent manner to report on the long-term implications of small island development.
The complete EMP will consist of ecological and environmental monitoring programs, mitigation plans, an outreach and education program, and reporting and research (Erik: 3 years later, this is a deceit. None is happening.) All monitoring programs will consist of three sections: a) pre-construction, b) during construction, and c) post construction. Impact matrices and "score cards' will be used to gauge and measure adherence to monitoring goals and objectives. The mitigation plan, outreach and education program, and reporting and research programs will be ongoing and adaptive to the stages of development. A website and a ftp site will be maintained. (Erik: never happened, although the EIA considers these components crucial to community monitoring of the project.)
11.21.07 | Bakers Bay
Guardian Ponders Why Homeowners are Selling Guana
Why are Guana Cay homeowners selling property on Great Guana Cay - the answer is obvious - Bakers Bay Club is ruining the island. This article in the Guardian poses the question:
08.25.07 | Bakers Bay
University Class Erupts over Bakers Bay Propaganda
Imagine yourself in a classroom somewhere in the United States.
Imagine that this classroom is a class on environmental science. Imagine that the Professor asks each of his students to pick a country somewhere in the Caribbean Basin and to write about some environmental issue the country is dealing with.
Imagine that today is the day for the girl who has Bahamas to give her speech.
Imagine that the girl who got Bahamas is up on the podium, the words ‘Guana Cay’ appear on the projector screen. She says that there is this island in the Northern Bahamas called Great Guana Cay. Her best friend’s dad, he works for a company called Discovery Land Company, which is building a golf resort there.
She explains that before the developers arrived on the island, things were terrible. There was rampant crime, for example. The developer’s have to be alert, for fear they will be assaulted or mugged.
The people who live on this island are particularly ignorant, they are like animals, she explains. The developer’s most often refuse to even sleep on the island, because of how bad the islanders are.
But the developers are helping the island by bringing in a larger police force, and they will be quadrupling the size of the island by bringing in foreigners, who will replace the inbred and uneducated locals.
The girl explained that the developers were a model for environmental practices, and their environmental practices should be followed throughout the Bahamas. She did not get into details, or show any photos of the work site.
She explained that most people don’t realize how uneducated Bahamians are, and that if it weren’t for Discovery Land Company, Great Guana Cay would be a cesspool of crime, overridden by uneducated inbreds.
Now imagine that the young woman who has Costa Rica is sitting in her seat, gripping her chair, incensed. Imagine that Costa Rica is a very bright young woman. She is aware of the controversy at Great Guana Cay. She reads Notes from the Road. She is familiar with the court case arguments and the environmental science which predicts the development will kill the island’s coral reef within a matter of years.
She gets up and says that this girl, Bahamas, has bought into propaganda and the developer’s bullshit. She explains to the class that the Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club project by the Discovery Land Company is one of the most controversial projects in the Bahamas. She says that it it is opposed by conservationists and coral reef scientists around the world.
She explains that the 170 people who live on Great Guana Cay are not animals at all. Nor are they inbred. In fact, they are a resilient and fiercely independent people who have populated this lonely outpost on the edge of the Atlantic for 200 years, crafting it into a peaceful and charming fishing and tourism community with 100% employment, no crime, and no police.
She explains that Guana Cay holds what scientists say may be the best reef in the Bahamas.
That day was April 20th, 2007. The professor of the class asked that the name of the University not be named.
The professor allegedly told the student to re-do her report on the Bahamas. She was told that she should not have relied on the developer for all of her information. Costa Rica was commended in front of a very tense class.
07.04.07 | Bakers Bay
Bakers Bay Club Accused of Blatant Bribe
The Freeport News wrote a stunning article today on the recent news of the Bahamas National Trust's alleged bribe from Discovery Land Company. Below are a few quotations.
"It is with extreme disgust that we, the Save Guana Cay Reef Association, read in the papers that such a ' blatant bribe' was being used to sway the public opinion in reference to the Bakers Bay development, in Guana Cay," the SGCRA statement said.
"The Bahamas National Trust graciously received the donation. We realize they are a cash strapped organization and we respect their work, but that is no reason 'to sell your soul to the devil.'
"Accepting the donation is one thing, we cannot fault them for that, but the gushing words of praise that followed in the press release from the BNT, was nothing short of appalling."
The SGCRA noted some early literature produced by the developers in which they mention the BNT as being a part of the project. They were even mentioned as being a part of the environmental monitoring team in the Heads of Agreement between the developers and the government.
Read the full article
06.27.07 | Bakers Bay
Locals suggest Discovery Land Money is Bribe
The following is a press release intercepted from Discovery Land Company. This is an exquisite example of how the company is using donations to lure the Bahamas' environmental officials into accepting their ecological nightmare. Notice how they misspell environment.
"Bahamas National Trust and Bakers Bay Join Forces To Preserve Evironment"
Mr. Neil Mckinney, Mr. Glenn Bannister, Dr Livingstone Marshall,Mrs. Beverly Taylor and Mr. Eric Carey
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nassau, Bahamas. June 25, 2007…. The Bahamas National Trust’s (BNT) ability to achieve its mission was significantly enhanced on Monday when Discovery Land Company (DLC), developers of The Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club at Great Guana Cay, Abaco, announced a pledge of $1.2 million to the organization.
“The Trust is very grateful for this generous grant by Discovery Land Company and the Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club which will support the mission of the organization, and more specifically assist in providing management and infrastructure for national parks throughout our country,” said Mr. Eric Carey, Executive Director of the BNT.
Eric Carey added that The Bahamas National Trust visited the development earlier this year and were impressed with the development’s efforts in following best environmental management practices and especially the goals and objectives of the project’s environmental impact assessment and environmental management plans.
“We saw firsthand the company’s daily monitoring of the project by its in-house environmental management team and observed the very careful approach taken to preserve thousands of indigenous plants and animal habitats. In particular, we are very pleased with the results of the company’s successful turtle monitoring program and the many development related environmental educational opportunities that exist within the project. Baker’s Bay has also discussed with us its plans for other aspects of the project including the construction of the golf course and a Blue Flag Marina and we are satisfied that these aspects of the project will be carried out in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. Given the development’s serious focus on environmentally responsible development, we think that Baker’s Bay will help to set the standard for sensitive and sustainable development in The Bahamas and maybe even the region,” Mr. Carey said.
Glenn Bannister, President of The BNT also expressed gratitude for DLC’s pledge.
“This is a very significant contribution to the enormous task before us. We acknowledge that the development at Baker’s Bay will have an impact on the natural environment,” Mr. Bannister said, “however the developers have demonstrated a commitment to very high environmental standards. They have an aggressive environmental management plan that has already effected the removal of most of the invasive species on the cay, and a full restoration of the affected habitats. Furthermore, they have exceeded many of the conditions set by the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology Commission (BEST) and appear very open to novel approaches that respect and protect the environment.”
The Bahamas National Trust was established by an Act of Parliament in 1959. It is a non-governmental, self-funded, non-profit organization, mandated with the development and management of the National Park System of The Bahamas.The BNT manages five national parks in the Abacos: The Abaco National Park, Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park, Walker’s Cay National Park, Tilloo Cay and Black Sound Cay Reserve.
The pledge to BNT will begin immediately with a $200K award per year in each of the first three years. In general, the funds will be used to assist with on the ground management of national parks across the country with emphasis on projects around Great Guana Cay and The Abacos, for joint educational initiatives with the Abaco based Friends of the Environment, and capacity building for the BNT. Thereafter, the second three year grant will be awarded contingent on the successful achievement of the above outlined general milestones and overall performance of the organization in carrying out the organization’s mission.
BNT’s Deputy Executive Director, Lynn Gape explained “This grant will greatly assist us in expanding our existing education and outreach programs for the island of Abaco and we are delighted that we will be able to provide significant support to assist our on the ground partners in Abaco, Friends of the Environment. In discussions with Baker’s Bay they indicated tremendous interest in our signature young people’s program Discovery Club and we will be working with Friends of the Environment to initiate Discovery Club Programs for Abaco.”
Both the Abaco National Park at the southern end of Abaco and Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park are natural areas which offer tremendous opportunities for nature tourism. The Abaco National Park created in 1994 protects the southern breeding habitat of the endangered Bahama Parrot and 20,500 acres of pine forest. The park is also home to a number of West Indian specialty birds: Loggerhead Kingbirds, Bahama Woodstars, Bahama Yellowthroats, Olive –capped Warblers and Cuban Emerald Hummingbirds. Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park is a 2,100 acre land and sea park with extensive coral reefs, undersea caves and amazing marine life.
The Trust has recently done extensive outreach in the Abaco Community in order to complete management plans for both of these parks. According to Ms. Tamica Rahming, Director of Parks for the BNT, “This grant from the Discovery Land Company will assist us in implementing our plan. The residents of Abaco have provided us with excellent suggestions for what they would like to see happen in these parks and this support will greatly assist us in making their vision come true.”
The Trust is dependent upon such partnerships to manage the 25 national parks throughout the country, covering 700,000 acres of land and sea. The Bahamas National Trust has been building a national park system for over 45 years to achieve important conservation and development goals for Bahamians.
“Baker’s Bay is committed to the maintaining the highest environmental performance in and around the Great Guana Cay property but is keenly aware that such efforts represent only a small portion of what is really needed to bring about meaningful and long-term environmental stewardship in the country,” said Dr. Livingston Marshall, Sr. Vice President of Environmental and Community Affairs for Baker’s Bay. “Given the scope of the requirements of national environmental stewardship, it makes sense to partner with and support the mission of The Bahamas National Trust with its mandate for development and management of national park systems in The Bahamas. Baker’s Bay is also very aware of the important work being done by the BNT in the area of environmental education and believes that it is vital to support the organization’s continued efforts in this area. We hope that that other corporate entities and especially our fellow Bahamians will see the importance of the BNT efforts and find it fitting to support the organization’s mission as well,” he said.
Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club, located on the northern end of Great Guana Cay in the Abacos will comprise an exquisite residential community of 585 stunning beachfront and ocean view acres, 175 custom home sites and183 high-end single-family developer residences. The development will also include a villa-style hotel, private golf club, 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed private golf course and a 33-acre marina village with a 158-slip “Blue Flag” marina.
Discovery Land Company, the developers of Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club, Guana Cay, Abaco is a Scottsdale, Arizona based real estate development firm specializing in the creation of world-class golf and residential communities.
06.27.07 | Bakers Bay
Mike Meldman, the CEO of Discovery Land Company and an actor in the breezy summer Blockbuster, "Ocean's 13", appears to be on a public relations rampage to fix his company's image, and to make Bahamians and his clientele forget that Discovery Land Company is destroying Guana Cay and one of the Bahamas' most critical reef systems.
I am going to show you some examples of Discovery Land Company's recent attempts to fix their public relations image, illustrated through clippings in the press and their own marketing language. While you read these real-life recent examples, remember that Discovery Land Company is not in business to help people out and be friendly to everybody, nor are they in business for peace and love. They are in business to make money and to satisfy their investors. If Michael Meldman were just wasting millions of dollars on philanthropic endeavors, he would be fired by his investors. No, these following examples are carefully crafted corporate decisions to maximize revenue. These are advertising and public relations dollars designed to confuse and deceive both the Bahamian public and Discovery Land Company's clientele. Will Bahamians take the bait?
Take a look at this example. On April 2, 2007, the University of North Carolina announced that they were creating an environmental professorship in which Meldman was the primary donor in a multi-million dollar professorship for environment and conservation studies. To the student press at UNC, the irony of this made front-page headlines. The students understood that Meldman was trying to use money to fix the perception of himself and his company. Clipped from an official UNC publication:
In May 2007, Discovery Land Company updated its website and added a new section which is designed to make the company look philanthropic. There are no details, only vague writing that says the company will help with foster children. But it sounds good.
Yesterday, the Nassau Guardian published a press release entitled, “BNT benefits from Baker’s Bay” which announced that Bakers Bay Club was giving $200,000 to the Bahamas National Trust (BNT).
I admire the Bahamas National Trust deeply, and I encourage donations and support to this institution whose importance to the Bahamas grows every day. But Baker’s Bay Club did not give this gift out of good will, love for the environment or for the people of the Bahamas. If they spent their millions so freely, their investors would fire them. Rather, the Baker’s Bay Club is offering this donation, at the very least, to improve their public image. At the very worst, the donation will be used to as a carrot, dangled to lead Bahamians from the devastation and outrage being caused by this unacceptable megadevelopment.
I have seen the worldwide coral reef and mangrove communities speak out against this development. I have listened to eminent marine biologists and conservationists denounce this megadevelopment for the many ways it will harm crucial reef, mangrove and terrestrial environments. Let’s be clear about one thing – Guana Cay’s environment is unique in this world, and its elkhorn and staghorn coral structure is considered one of the best and last of its type in the world. National treasures like Guana Cay need to be protected. Guana Cay’s marine environment has supported a sustainable fishing community for generations, its beauty draws international tourism not only to Guana Cay’s small cottage tourism center, but its reef helps fill up hotels and homes in places like Treasure Cay, Hopetown and Green Turtle Cay. Beyond the vital economic importance of Guana Cay’s unique and fragile environment, is the overriding international importance of saving these unique environments before it is too late; before these treasures of God are gone forever.
The article quotes: "Those funds will come in the form of $200,000 per year in each of the first three years and thereafter we will sit with The Trust and we will look at its accomplishments, objectives and milestones, with a view to supporting the trust again to the tune of a second three-year grant for another $600,000." To me, this is code for “our bribes will influence your policy.” Baker’s Bay Club has come up with an ingenious way to ensure they can dangle money in front of an underfunded agency with the hope of influencing policy. I have seen Baker’s Bay Club use money to influence and change public opinion many times before. Bakers Bay CEO Michael Meldman, in a previous Nassau Guardian article, was quoted as defending his motives for donating money to offset negative publicity on Guana Cay. He said, "We do this sort of thing everywhere our properties are located. This is not being done here at Great Guana Cay just because we want to quiet the previous situation.” But actually, after calling all of their other properties, we found no similar foundations or donations existed at the time that article was written. Money is being channeled by calculating marketers precisely to change opinions in the Bahamas, even while outside of the Bahamas, opposition to the project is unanimous among professionals concerned about the effects such a development will have.
Bahamians are deeply religious, deeply moral people. They understand that their natural environment is a great economic and cultural resource. They will not be fooled by the latest comedic public relations scam perpetrated by the Baker’s Bay Club.
Baker’s Bay Club has lost the scientific battle over whether their development is good or bad for the environment. An international scientific consensus strongly condemns the large, dangerous footprint of this megadevelopment. I urge the BNT to take sides on this issue which is so important to the Bahamas’ future. Bahamians are not owned by rich Americans dangling carrots in front of their mouths. Perhaps its time for the Bahamas to seriously consider abandoning this illegal and dangerous development and strongly consider the Baker’s Bay property, its coral reef, the nearby Fowl Cay reef, and the mangrove and orchid forests of Guana Cay’s northeastern wilderness into a national marine and terrestrial park. The economic and environmental benefits will resound for generations, and the positive press will help reverse the negative press Bakers Bay has brought to this proud country.
The article in the Nassau Guardian
Here is the article and quote from the Nassau Guardian article I mentioned above:
Here is another example of Bakers Bay Club using the Bahamas National Trust to their marketing advantage. They actually claim that one of their public relations' schemes consists of Bahamas National Trust officials. But read below and then see the letter from the Bahamas National Trust:
Q: How will development efforts impact Joe’s Creek, the mangroves and the bonefish flats on Guana Cay?
A: Contrary to prevalent rumors, Joe’s Creek, the mangroves and the Guana Cay bonefish flats will all be preserved and not altered by development (EDITOR's NOTE: Discovery Land Company's advertising material was inaccurate. Mangroves have been removed, destroyed and Joe's Creek has been severely mangled.) The Joe’s Creek area is the centerpiece of a 70-acre preserve (EDITOR'S NOTE: Less than 70 acres of the Joe's Creek area remain) which will be set aside by the developer. The preserve will be established to forever maintain the land in its current natural state. The general public will continue to have access to this preserve area for crabbing and other uses consistent with the environmental sensitivity of the area (EDITOR'S NOTE: locals who have accessed this public land for generations have been turned back by Discovery Land Company sentries). A developer-funded interpretive center, public trail system and 5-acre public beach park will provide restrooms, fire pits and a public dock for small craft. The preserve will be governed by an independent foundation made up of representatives from the College of the Bahamas, Bahamas National Trust, and the University of Miami.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: the above statement is inaccurate. At the time of printing, the Bahamas National Trust had no intention of being involved in this scheme. See note below from the executive director of the Bahamas National Trust in response to the above advertising material.)
April 20, 2005
Troy D Albury,
Thank you for the letter of April 14, 2005 regarding Bahamas National Trust's involvement in the proposed development at Guana Cay, Abaco.
I am a fairly new Executive Director at the Trust, having been in the Bahamas since early December. To the best of my knowledge, Bahamas National Trust has not been involved with the Guana Cay development at any level. As far as I know, we have not even seen the development plans and not been involved with discussions about a proposed 66-acre preserve there. The first I had heard about it was when I read it in the newspaper.
Because BNT has not been involved with the discussions, we do not have
any position or opinion about the proposal.
I hope this is helpful in clarifying our role.
January 22, 2006 | Bakers Bay Club
Aerials Show EIA Recommendations Out the Window
The following photographs examine the dangerous gamble Discovery Land Company is making with Guana Cay.
Impossibly close to current developments, the Bakers Bay Club marina is being shelled out of Guana Cay's mangrove areas.
Constant development threatens nearshore waters
The development of the marina continues dangerously close to the reef-side of the cay with no use of plastic barriers between the construction area and the coral reef. Guana Cay's porous limestone means pollutants, nutrients and construction-related chemicals will almost instantly leach out into the reef: a potent combination which scientists indicate will devastate this reef, one of the last remaining truly healthy reefs in the Atlantic-Caribbean.
Detail of marina construction on the Sea of Abaco side.
Bakers Bay Club's Tent City. Foreign worker's lounge in an isolated camp in the northern sector of the island while native residents are terrorized by the Bakers Bay Club.
February 13, 2007 | Bakers Bay Club
New Photos Reveal Unspeakable Devastation
New photos taken in February 2007 reveal the extent of what has been lost at Great Guana Cay. Saving the island and its nearshore marine environment now requires speed and action from Bahamians, concerned tourists and the government.
The island is nearly cut in half as development of the marina unfolds.
Strange sediments appear in the water adjacent to construction.
Every day, there are more plumes of billowing smoke and less land. Here, fast-paced construction abutts the coral reef.
October 19, 2006
| Bakers Bay Club
Funny Business with the Field Club
The Bakers Bay Club is practicing funny business.
Foreign employees of the Bakers Bay Club appear to mock the native residents of Great Guana Cay, who approach this public beach by boat. Anthony Roberts asked the Chief Councilor, Wayne Hall, if it was against the law to drive on beaches. His answer was yes. Anthony then asked, "Then why are the employees of Bakers Bay Club allowed to drive the beach at Bakers?" Hall answered that he was not aware that they were driving on the beaches and asked what they were driving? Roberts answered," ATV's and tractors!" Additionally, Bakers Bay employees were raking the beach with ATV's, which is clearly also against the law.
The Bakers Bay Club employees have been, or were, driving without licenses all about Guana Cay for months.
In current (April 2006) Bakers Bay literature, the Bakers Bay Club refers to a large hunting grounds on mainland Abaco. Rumor on the Abaco mainland has it that this is an additional 3,000 acres of crown land, although that information cannot be independently verified. In this literature, Bakers Bay Club writes that they will be hunting 'Abaco duck.' Locals refer to the White-Cheeked Pintail as the "Bahama Duck" but there is no such thing as an "Abaco Duck." The species they are referring to is clearly a no-take species under Bahamian hunting regulations, and a threatened West Indian endemic.
Sept 23 , 2006 | Bakers Bay Club Watch
Bakers Bay Club Environmental Documents filled with misinformation, irrelevancies
Discovery Land Company offered to share information and work with one environmental group; a local group based in the Bahamas. In response to this group's criticism and suggestions of the project, Discovery Land Company offered the environmental group some documents.
Below is the partial text of one of those documents. It is titled, "BAKER’S BAY GOLF COURSE DESIGN NARRATIVE." It is not signed or dated. No individual claims responsibility for the document. The document is irrelevant to the environmental concerns at hand, which is not surprising, as this has been the case throughout Discovery Land Company's stay on Guana. Below is the text of the document in italics. Comments are in regular type.
Past experience has proven this, as there have been no negative effects noted on any of their previously developed projects. Other projects include The Estancia and Mirabel Clubs in Scottsdale, Arizona, Ironhorse in Whitefish, Montana, Vaquero, in Dallas, Texas, and the recently completed Kukio Golf and Beach Club, on the Island of Hawaii.
For two years, Discovery Land Company has stated that their developments in other locations have had no similar negative effects on the environment - this is of course true; none of their developments are located in similarly ecosensitive locations, and certainly none of their developments are located adjacent to a coral reef. In fact, the soil type common to Discovery Land Company's other locations could be called of a terrigenious composition, compared to the carstic limestone of Great Guana Cay, which is so permeable that a glass of water would simply dry up on the surface and almost instantly sink into the island. There are many examples where such developments have damaged coral reef ecosystems. The unnamed author does not seem to have a grasp of the science relevant to coastal eutrophication and coral reef biology and the impacts of such a project on these very fragile and threatened ecosystems.
The developer believes that the keys to short and long-term success are strongly influenced by three essential elements: 1. employing responsible, qualified personnel, consultants and contractors, 2. proper construction, and, 3. effective water management. To that end, they have assembled a highly qualified project management team to lead them to success at Baker’s Bay.
The unnamed author is quick to remind its readers about the benefits of the project to employment, and the qualities of its employees. But such a report should focus on the greatest threat - the coral reef. Here we are already through the introductory comments of the report, and the reef is not even mentioned. Where are the micrmolar amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous from the so-called safe examples mentioned above? The author cites that similar Discovery Land Company developments have had no negative effects on water. If this were to be the case for Bakers Bay Club, Discovery Land Company could provide critics with the levels of nutrients that would leach out into the coral ecosystem during, throughout and after development. Of course, the developer cannot provide this information, even though it is easy to acquire and estimate: the result would spell doom for the reef.
The Golf Course Superintendent will be responsible for the long-term operation and maintenance of the golf course, including irrigation and drainage systems, soil and water testing, and fertilizer and pesticide usage. The Superintendent will employ the use of professional turf-grass, soil consultants, and other industry professionals as necessary to assist in developing maintenance and management programs directed at minimizing potential negative impacts from the golf course operation, including the non-target application of applied fertilizers or pesticides. He will employ and train a qualified, capable staff that shares the developers’ interest in protecting the environment, human and natural resources in and around the project site. The Golf Course Superintendent will also be responsible for complying with all regulatory agencies, relating to the proper storage, care and use of all fertilizers and pesticides. He will be responsible for monitoring and maintaining all drainage systems, ensuring that they are operating as designed and constructed, thereby protecting the site, and surrounding natural resources of Baker’s Bay.
Interesting that responsibility for the fate of one of the Caribbean's last great coral reefs will come down to decisions made by a golf course superintendent. If you compare this with the fact that the University of Miami's grant to Discovery Land Company ends in December 2006 - will a loan golf superintendent make all decisions without coral scientists on-hand? It seems so. And the report refers not once to the coral reefs whatsoever, but does mention fertilizers or pesticides. It should be noted that the golf course at Winding Bay has recently had significant problems with seashore paspalum living up to its name - to thrive without pesticides and herbicides. A golf course superintendent will not have the knowledge or resources to keep the golf course green without increasing nutrient levels far above that required to keep the reef alive.
GOLF COURSE DESIGN
The golf course is designed by Fazio Designs Inc., one of the worlds most noted Golf Course Architectural firms. Within their designs, they strive to create a golf experience that nurtures the natural characteristics of the land, and creates an enjoyable golf experience. One of the notable features of Fazio designs is their tendency to shape the golf courses to contain the golf ball, creating contours that move towards the center of the golf hole. This shaping characteristic serves to contain most sheet flows of water during intense storm activity, into low areas within the golf course corridor, where they
are contained, and piped to detention areas.
It's interesting that the author is so willing to admit that Fazio golf courses are created for people who aren't very good at golf. Since we know that Discovery Land Company has no intention of lining the golf courses, and since we know that the course will sit on limestone, we know that its impossible to keep the nutrients from leaking into the reef system, despite efforts to control the flow of these nutrients.
The long-term maintainability of the golf course will be determined by the golf course design and construction. The Developer recognizes this fact, and has demonstrated in the past on other projects, that they are committed to constructing golf courses responsibly.
It now sounds like this is simply a public relations piece. This developer has been severely criticized for their plans on Great Guana Cay, by experts. They have not employed the appropriate experts, and words do not change those facts.
The Developer strives to use the best information and consultation available, including applicable University testing, industry proven methods and practices, as well as the latest technological innovations with a common goal within their projects of creating great golf courses that meld seamlessly into their natural surroundings and environment. The selection of proper turf grasses, soils, and irrigation systems are essential to the long-term maintenance of healthy turf grass. The developer agrees with the philosophy that a properly constructed golf course leads to managing healthy turf.
Healthy turf, due to proper construction and management requires less pesticide use and much lower fertility requirements than an improperly constructed golf course. In order to achieve their goal, the Developer constructs their courses using the construction methods and Best Management Practices as suggested by such agencies as the United Golf Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Golf Course Builders Association of America, and the American Society of Golf Course Architects.
None of the organizations above have created any guidelines on the protection of coral reefs from unsaafe levels of nutrients, and erosion leading to sedimentation. Any guidelines that this developer is referring to are therefore completely irrelevant!
The turf types selected for the golf course will be those that rate very high by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program trials for climate and conditions similar to the project site. Due to the climate, soil and water characteristics found at Baker’s Bay, the turfgrass selected will be an improved variety of Seashore Paspalum. The turf areas will be maintained in such a way to promote healthy, deep-rooted plants that are resistant to stresses. Sound cultural practices, including traffic control to minimize turf wear, aeration to decrease soil compaction, mowing the turf at the proper cutting heights, and judicious irrigation will ensure that a healthy stand of turf is maintained, which decreases the need for fertilizer and pesticide applications.
Seashore Paspalum is a relatively new grass to the golf turf industry. Kukio, a Discovery Land Company project on the Big Island of Hawaii was one of the first golf courses to plant an improved variety of Seashore paspalum throughout the entire golf course, including the greens surfaces.
Kukio is a particularly poor example, as the soil composition in Hawaii is very different than Guana Cay. The soil there absorbs nitrates and phosphates efficiently, whereas in a dry limestone such as Guana, none of this happens.
It was selected for many reasons, however it’s most impressive attribute is its ability to withstand high concentrations of salts, including sodium and chloride that are found in ocean and brackish waters. Due to Paspalum’s high salt tolerance, many of the common turfgrass pests that plague other turfgrasses, are almost non-existent. At Kukio, no herbicides have been applied to the golf course in over three and 1/2 years. There are no other golf courses that can make that claim along the Kohala coast, as they are all established with strains of Bermudagrass. Additionally, it is
being confirmed by university and private testing that many turfgrass insects do not inhabit Paspalum turfed golf courses. It is believed that the high salt concentrations of the irrigation water cause irritation to the endoskeletons and epidermis of the insects, causing them to seek other sources of food and shelter.
The developer's reliance on turfgrass to solve so many of the issues associated with this project is dangerous; again, Hawaii and the Abaco chain have incredibly different weather. Although many benefits of Paspalum are cited, the string of benefits the grass proposed does not make up for its inefficiencies; in particular its eventual need for pesticides and fertilizers.
August 25 , 2006 | Bakers Bay Club
More International Publications Discuss Bakers Bay
National Geographic Traveler
and Miami Herald weigh in on the situation at Great Guana Cay and the Bakers Bay Club. This constant press is very bad for Discovery Land Company, but it does no favors for tourism to Abaco: more proof that Bakers Bay Club is already gnawing at the strength of Abaco tourism.
August 18, 2006 | Bakers Bay Club
Bakers Bay Club Losing Millions
In a recent press release, the Bakers Bay Club claims they are costing Discovery Land Company millions of dollars. In a press release given to the Bahama Journal, Dr. Marshall states,
"When you find that you are continuously spending but not taking in, well of course you head down the road where you might be looking at more red ink as opposed to black ink, so it's that type of thing for us...But this company did not come to The Bahamas on a wing and a prayer - they came here exceptionally well planned. I think that is also true of their financial picture, and so while it is costing us, we are prepared to stay in this for the long haul and to be able to weather any financial challenge we might experience."
Bakers Bay Club blames their losses on the locals of Great Guana Cay. But people have a right to defend and determine their island's future. It is, ironically, the Bakers Bay Club partners themselves who are responsible for bungling this giant investment project. Period.
August 09, 2006 | Bakers Bay Club
Tales of Creepy Developer Tactics
For the last two years, Bakers Bay Club has attempted to misrepresent to the public how many Bahamians on Great Guana Cay back opposition to their development. In one instance, Dr. Livingston Marshall, Vice President of Environmental and Community Affairs, questioned whether there were more than two members of Save Guana Cay Reef, the organization of locals formed to represent opposition to the development.
A petition helped convince the Privy Council to continue the injunction against the Bakers Bay Club.
But throughout all the public relations spin, there were 170 residents of Great Guana Cay who signed the original petition against the Bakers Bay Club, and Save Guana Cay Reef's membership consists of hundreds of Bahamians and homeowners on the island.
The developer argued that Save Guana Cay Reef did not represent the community, and as evidence they submitted a petition signed by 73 individuals.
But the Privy Council was aware that the petition was floated around the island under the premise that if people signed the petition, Discovery Land Company would give money to the community that they promised under the public relations spin scam called the Fig Tree Foundation.
Many were surprised to find that there were children's signatures, and signatures of those who favored Save Guana Cay Reef on the petition. It turns out that the petition was circulated under a false premise, and many signed it just so that the petitioners would leave them alone! Others signed it under the premise that by signing it, they would be helping the sick and needy.
And that folks, is the work of a shady developer.
August 08, 2006 | whereabouts
Bethel Report indicates Bakers Bay Club Clueless
Dr. Livingston Marshall stated that he was sharing his most recent EIA and EMP with Michelle Bethel of Bethell Environmental Ltd, a Bahamian environmental planning group. This statement was produced after criticism that Marshall and the Bakers Bay Club were not sharing vital documents with the public. Now, Bethel has shared her findings.
In summary: Bakers Bay Club is clueless and has no idea what they are doing.
For two years, the locals of Great Guana Cay and dozens of conservation organizations have been arguing that Bakers Bay Club's plan is dangerous for the coral reef. They have replied by attempting to condemn the people who oppose their project. But in this latest twist, the agency whom they offered to communicate with also lends their doubts.
It appears that Bakers Bay Club hired a Mr. WM. Kent Alkire, II, an agronomist and golf course environmental consultant with Golf Ventures International,to produce a report about fertilizer use and sustainability. The report has nothing to do with Bakers Bay Club or Guana Cay, or even the Bahamas. It is a general report that doesn't even mention anything about corals or mangroves. In fact, Marshall's use of such an erroneous report to justify their development is just another red herring.
In the developer's material, Bakers Bay Club writes, "At the Baker’s Bay site, the sand bed will be placed over the existing sub-soil,comprised of a variety of soils, ranging from clay and silt to course sand. The intent during construction will be to create a “perched’ water table below the capping sand. Water that percolates through the sand root zone will be slowed as it travels downward and encounters the native soil. This decrease in percolation rate and the slower draining sub-soils will aid in collecting suspended solids carried down from the overlaying sand.
The turf-grass root system will be encouraged to root into the sub-soil, with the ultimate goal of the root systems utilizing the solids that may have leached through the overlaying sand."
It seems that the developer will think that sand will decrease the likelihood of leaching fertilizers, nutrients, herbicides and more into the coral reef. In fact, it is the porousity of this land's limestone that makes such a golf course an impossibility on this island.
July 12, 2006 | Bakers Bay Club
Beach Harassment Continues on Northern End of Guana Cay
According to locals on Great Guana Cay, a local family went to the northeastern end of Great Guana Cay to light a fire and play music, a custom for local families celebrating the Bahamian independence day. Employees of Bakers Bay Club reportedly rushed to the beach and told them they could not light a fire or have music on the beach. The BBC dispatched six security guards to stand over them at the high water mark and watch over them. When the family started to light a small fire to cook hotdogs and hamburgers, General Manager Carter Redd reportedly threatened to call the police. An article on the subject: Locals harassed at beach
Although Beaches are public in the Bahamas below high tide line, harassment of locals who have long used these beaches is common. Photo courtesy SGCR.
There are no laws preventing Bahamians from lighting fires or playing music below the high water mark, and the police were in agreement with the family. According to witnesses, Carter Redd was told to leave them alone so they could celebrate their holiday.
This instance is not isolated. Locals enjoying their traditional rights have been harassed by Bakers Bay Employees on many occasions. Some instances have made it to the local press and have even been admitted by BBC officials in the press. It is truly ironic that on independence day, a foreign entity is reminding Bahamians that their rights and independence are truly being lost.
June 22, 2006 | whereabouts
Bakers Bay Club Hires Foreign Workers
Discovery Land Company has announced that about 17% of its Bakers Bay Club workforce now consists of foreign workers, most likely from Mexico and Central America. Discovery Land Company had formerly been beating the Bahamian jobs drum as a way of routing the more encompassing issues of community rights and the environment. They can no longer do this. Like many hasty foreign developers, Bakers Bay Club is giving up on Bahamian labor. Many developers believe that Bahamians are inefficient and lazy, but this is far from the truth. Bahamians are hard workers with diverse skill-sets. By hiring laborers from thousands of miles away, Bakers Bay Club again sticks its middle finger at Abaco.
January 18, 2006 | Bakers Bay Watch
Bakers Bay Club Employees & Golf Cart Accident
The Golf Cart rammed into Dolphin Beach Resort
On January 16, 2007 at around 10 PM, three Bakers Bay Club employees crashed into a wall at Dolphin Beach Resort after a night of alcohol, according to locals. The golf cart flipped over and the female in the cart was pinned underneath the cart.
Bakers Bay Club has yet to apologize or offer to fix the damage.
This is the second hit-and-run incident allegedley involving Bakers Bay Club employees. In the United States, the driver would be arrested with DUI charges. But on an island without police, you can get away with anything!
January 16 , 2006
| Bakers Bay Watch
Bakers Bay Quells Protests with Money
In the weeks leading up to 10 AM, Friday, January 5, workers at the Bakers Bay Club organized and planned a formal protest against the golf club work site in the Northern Bahamas.
According to Bakers Bay workers, Discovery Land Company had been attempting to cut the worker's hours and their pay. The economics of the Bakers Bay Club is set up so that if the project is completed in 5 years, the senior brass in the organization will get rich. At 10 years, the outfit will break even. Beyond 10 years, the outfit will lose money. Because of this, Bakers Bay employees are boosting the worker schedules to almost slave-like conditions, and often only giving extremely short notice of when workers are to report to work or not report to work.
Workers have taken the ferry all the way from Marsh Harbour to Guana Cay only to find that they are told they are not needed that day. They are forced to wait three hours for the next ferry.
Bonuses went unpaid, and workers were critical of differences in expected pay, according to a Nassau Guardian article.
The company also allegedly declined to give the workers Christmas bonuses they had promised them.
Guana Cay embraces for the 2007 defense of its culture
But adding to the worker's claims that they were working in slave-like conditions, many claimed they were forced to dig holes with their bare hands because of a lack of tools.
The goal, some believe, is to drive down the will of the Bahamian workers, and create an environment that allows Bakers Bay Club their much preferred use of foreign labor from Latin America.
After the 30-40 workers protested in front of the Bakers Bay Club office, pointing out the slave-like conditions they are subjected to, the Discovery Land Company backed down and offered them additional benefits and a promise to treat them more fairly.
Anybody interested in the subject of Bakers Bay Club will find numerous articles and oral explanations of the Bakers Bay Club mistreatment of Bahamians.