While our week on Ambergris Caye started with a bit of rain and the rarest of rare April cold fronts, as the week moved on, we returned to HOT and humid.
There is so much going on – it’s easiest just to do quick summary of the “hot topics” of my week.
I’ll start with the one that will surely garner the most excitement – though I think the last topic is the most important.
- Smoothing the Road to Secret Beach
Remind me next time. Never say never.
Ten years ago, there was no way to get to the west side of Ambergris Caye by truck or golf cart – it was boat only.
But developers obtained a large chunk of “land” – some rock, some land and much mangroved lagoon – and started Grand Belizean Estates. Plots of land on the west side of the island for relatively low prices.
An area where there were no utilities – no power, sewage and water – for the foreseeable future.
A few homes have been built – they can be counted on 2 hands – but the coast line has become wildly popular. One of the top spots for visitors these days – Secret Beach.
The road was built 7 or 8 years ago – piled up to cut across the waterway – and has been heavily used. It has never been smoothed or repaired…UNTIL NOW.
All those jagged ruts and jolting rocks, puddles that fill during the rainy season and create small lakes…I hear that it is being smoothed.
Yesterday, I took a picture of the newly graded road. And today I’m heading out that way to get the FULL scoop.
- Another Marriott Announced For Ambergris Caye
Construction – and LARGE SCALE construction – is happening at a feverish pace on and around Ambergris Caye.
Just recently we’ve seen announcements for The Four Seasons at Caye Chapel – an caye along our reef less than 15 miles from San Pedro town. (2021)
And just this week, the site of Exotic Caye Resort (and the famous Crazy Canuck’s Bar) announced a Belize Marriott Residences – a 203-key resort. You can see the announced plans here.
This joins the La Sirene project at the “once desolate” southern tip of the island. Their website says desolate, I might say pristine.
This Phase One drawing was sent as part of their April newsletter.
This marina looks like it could include some pretty serious dredging at the famous fishing flats called Congrejo.
As the island struggles with traffic and providing enough water to the current population (with no resolution in sight), it should be interesting to see how this all comes on line.
- Cayo Rosario Development
Last year a plan was announced and an EIA submitted (an Environmental Impact Assessment) was brought before the public for massive development at Rosario Caye.
Rosario Caye is a small mangroved caye, a bird rookery and an active flyfishing location, that sits just across from Secret Beach.
It also sits directly in the middle of the relatively newly expanded Hol Chan Marine Reserve. In 2015, spearheaded by our minister Manuel Heredia, the reserve was drastically expanded – to includes sea grass beds, mangrove lagoons, the Congrejo shoals and the Bajos area on the west side of the island (excluding private property). More information is detailed here.
It was monumental. Protecting the livelihoods of so many – from the tour guides to the flyfishing industry that brings so much to this island.
And now NEAC (the National Environmental Appraisal Committee) has given approval for two docks/structures with over 40 over the water cabanas. Over this protected seabed.
While it is well understood that this property is now private – that is THE CAYE. Why should any developer (especially one with a checkered history – see here) be allowed to build units over the water AND SELL the sea bed.
ESPECIALLY SEABED in a marine reserve.
Why did our minister fight so hard to designate this area as a marine reserve if you can dredge and build over the water structures AND dredge to lay a sewage pipe from Rosario to Ambergris?
Take a look at NEAC’s own 2010 Over The Water Structure Guidelines. Take a look at all the tour guides that submitted letters AGAINST this project. Look at the letters from lodges on this island AND international companies and associations like Yellow Dog and BTT (Bonefish Tarpon Trust) – unanimously against dredging and over the water structures.
Does NEAC not understand this island at all – what we do here and why it is a popular spot for visitors? Does stake holder consultation mean nothing?
From what I understand NEAC is composed of: The Committee includes the Chief Environmental Officer, the Lands Commissioner, the Director of Health Services; the Chief Forest Officer; the Fisheries Administrator; the chief meteorologist; the director of petroleum and geology and GOB’s chief engineer. Also serving on the committee are three experts nominated by the D.O.E., a representative from a tertiary level institution in Belize; two N.G.O.s or representatives from the private sector and one person named by the Minister.
Perhaps they can tell us why this project is SO crucial to the country – so important that they are willing to set this very dangerous precedent with massive over the water building over protected waters.