Green Pages

Saving the Salinas

Two Grand Turk salinas gain Protected Area Status

By Jodi Johnson, Environmental Officer, DECR

Since the inception of the National Parks Ordinance of 1975 (and its subsequent amendments in 1992), the salinas of Grand Turk have been overlooked as part of the Protected Area System despite their size, comprising the largest total area of salt ponds in the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) covering approximately 200 hectares (494 acres), along with the historical role they played when salt production was at its peak. For many years, efforts have been ongoing to conserve and protect these salinas which are also ecologically important as wetlands serving many functions including, but not limited to flood control, providing vital habitats for many organisms and also a source of recreation and income.

A major development towards this effort took place in 2008 when a group of concerned students from the H.J. Robinson High School came up with a research project (“Indispensable Salinas”) to analyze the water quality of six salinas across Grand Turk which they then entered in the Inter-High School Science Fair. Deservedly, they secured first place and were invited to present their findings to the Ministry of Environment & District Administration where they explained that the unsightly appearance and odors emanating from some of the salinas were the basis for their project. The students highlighted that they wanted to have scientific proof that the salinas were in fact polluted along some sections even though they contain a thriving population of fish and other organisms which provide food for many of the birds using the salinas as a habitat.

Dumping in Red Salina

Dumping in Red Salina

Two years later, following numerous consultations and a detailed assessment of all seven salinas across Grand Turk, it was decided that two would be selected for Protected Area Status as Areas of Historical Interest on the recommendation of the Department of Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR) in collaboration with the Department of Planning, Survey and Mapping & Environmental Health. These salinas were selected based on factors concerning their existing condition, historical significance, level of ecological activity, overall size, location and viability as a source of public income, recent efforts by a stakeholder group to develop the salina to the benefit of the community and any immediate threat of development.
Based on the DECR’s presentation to the Advisory Council, in December 2010 the Governor, acting on the recommendations and justifications put forward, authorized amendments to the National Parks Ordinance (1992) whereby Town Pond Salina and Red Salina have now been officially designated as Areas of Historical Interest effective January 4, 2011.
Under the National Parks Ordinance, an Area of Historical Interest is designated “ . . . primarily for the purpose of protecting an object of historical interest therein. Such an area may form part of a national park, nature reserve or sanctuary, and in such case shall be subject to those provisions of this section and any regulations which are applicable to that park, reserve or sanctuary. In the case of any other area of historical interest, the public shall have access to the area, or to any object of interest therein, during such times and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by regulations which are applicable to that area . . .”
The features of interest highlighted under the ordinance for both salinas include:
• Salinas (salt pans) and old windmills from the salt industry;
• Important Bird Area (IBA) with endemic, migratory and internationally important bird species inclusive of the two rare and endangered species protected under the Wild Birds Protection Ordinance (the American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, and the Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis);
Flamingos feed at Town Pond Salina

Flamingos feed at Town Pond Salina

• Habitat for the endemic national flower, the Turks Heather Limonium bahamense (especially on the east banks of Red Salina);
• Home to “The Island,” an old quarantine station dating back to the early 1800s with numerous graves from early ancestors of the Turks & Caicos Islands;
• Nursery and permanent refuge for recreational and consumptive fish species such as mullet, snook and bonefish.
These two salinas represent the first and only Areas of Historic Interest on the capital of Grand Turk, and there are now a total of 35 protected areas and 9 Areas of Historic Interest across the Islands serving as a representation of the Islands’ natural and cultural features.
This amendment and designation will facilitate effective enforcement and management as applicable under the National Parks Regulation section eight, sub-regulation four which states that the following are prohibited within all Areas of Historic Interest (specific to these two salinas):
• Subject to any building preservation order made under the Physical Planning Ordinance, any alteration to the outward appearance of any structure that is not otherwise permitted by that Ordinance;
•The taking of any animal or plant by any method on land or at sea;
• The taking of any artifact;
• The removal of sand, rock, coral, coral-rag or any calcareous substance;
• The dumping of refuse, abandoned vehicles, toxic or other wastes, bilges, oil and other petroleum products, pesticides and other items harmful to animals or plants, or unsightly items;
• Erecting any structure unless authorized by the Director of Planning.
As such, the DECR hereby advises the public that under these amendments, any person contravening the above regulations is “liable on summary conviction to a fine of $50,000 or a term imprisonment of 12 months or both” and “any item, article or thing forfeited pursuant to sub-regulation 4(a) shall be destroyed, unless the Governor in Council directs that it be disposed of in some other specified manner.”
Special note: It is hoped that in time, other salinas on Grand Turk will be included under the Protected Area System as the DECR continues in its efforts to protect the natural resources of the TCI.

The department would like to express its appreciation to the following students from the H.J. Robinson High School and their teacher Ms. Cordelia Creese for their hard work and research: Chibuchim Otunye (Team Captain), Christenne Lyons, Andrew Monize, Michael Adams, Khambreal Garland, Ruben Altidor, Rusheena Bryan, Keibren Robinson, Trenisha Smith and Kenlove Taus.
In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future” and so we encourage members of the general public to acknowledge these students if you should come across them, for a job well done. Remember: you are never too young to make a difference!

For additional details and a complete list of all the protected areas across the TCI please visit our website


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Edward Grice
Aug 14, 2011 19:46

One of the largest salt producers around the early 1900’s was Benjamin Frith.
A copy of the 1915 Gazette records Frith Bros. & Co. as producing the largest quantities of salt from both the Town pond as well as Red Salina.
His Obituary in the New York Times mentions that at considerable expense he drained one of the salinas in order to help to stop a Typhoid epidemic.
Do you any information on any of this?
Ed Grice

Christenne Lyons
Feb 3, 2013 21:14

I just wanted to note for the above person that if one of the drained Salinas was either the Red Salina or Town Pond it was most likely the Town Pond. An “island” exists in the center where an old grave yard was established for the purpose of burying those who were affected by some disease. I remember being told by my teacher at the time, that the corpses were thought to be contagious in death and so were buried away from the general population to help stop the spread of the disease.

I cannot confirm if this is related to that record as I no longer have access to any of that information but I am sure you can look further into it. The “considerable expense” must have certainly referred to an economic one due to a decrease in salt production as both Salinas have drainage systems whereby seawater can be added or removed as needed. The drainage gates in the Red Salina should still be functional.

C. Lyons

Judy Lawrie
Apr 6, 2013 21:00

Christenne: I am also related to the Friths, Darrell, Stubbs, Saunders etc. I am presently in Gr Turks to try to get more info no my relatives. I have been to the museum but the information was not much help and the young lady working there did not know where I could get to find more records Would you be able to suggest what records I can check and where I would find them. I am interested in newspaper articles, birth, death and marriage registers etc Any help you can give would be appreciated

Walter Bien
Mar 22, 2015 11:04

My great great grandfather was Wade Stubbs of Wade’s green in the Turks and Caicos. My great grandmother was Susan Darrell (née stubs) and daughter of Wade Stubbs nephew of Wade Stubbs of Florida (loyalist) before going to Turks and Caicos. Susan Darrell married captain Robert Darrell sea captain from Bermuda. I have done extensive history on the family and just came across your posting.

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