- Written by Jaime Elliott
The Conservation Volunteer International group works at the Francis Bay ruin.
Volunteer Paula Schaper works near a coral chimney at Francis Bay.
V.I. NATIONAL PARK — More than two years after retiring as Superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park, Mark Hardgrove returned this month with a group of volunteers who made a big impact on the island.
Hardgrove led a group of 22 participants in Conservation Volunteer International Program’s newest destination and first trip to the island November 2 through 12.
The group cleared miles of trails and spent hours removing growth from several ruins and grave sites within V.I. National Park. ConservationVIP participants stayed at V.I. Environmental Resource Station near Lameshur Bay and spent time on the Leinster Bay trail and ruins, the Francis Bay boardwalk, trial and ruins, Yawzi Point trail and the Lameshur Bay trail, ruins and grave site.
ConservationVIP is an all-volunteer non-profit group dedicated to the sustainability of some of the world’s greatest and most pristine landscapes. The group hosts trips to Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park, The Galapagos Islands, Yosemite National Park, Machu Picchu — where it is the sole volunteer group working in the ancient city — and now VINP.
The group has been in existence for about eight years and partnered with REI Adventures about four years ago. The partnership allows ConservationVIP to continue organizing and leading the trips while REI Adventures advertises, handles logistics of registering volunteers and assists with travel arrangements.