Dragon Bay OK’d for mangrove fix

Destroyed during Hurricane Ivan

The
Central Planning Authority has given the developer of Dragon Bay, the 360-acre
multi–use development that encompasses The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, approval
to begin restoring 17 acres of mangroves in the North Sound.

Developer
Michael Ryan said part of the restoration project would clean up debris left by
Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. The debris includes oil drums, garbage and
potential toxic pollutants.

Ivan
killed or severely impacted an area of about 8 acres of mangroves adjacent to
the North Sound entrance of Dragon Bay. “Our plan is to clear the existing
debris, and to replant, restore, preserve and manage a 17-acre area of healthy
red mangroves, which is more than double the impacted area,” Mr. Ryan said.

The
planning approval confirmed an agreement the developer made with the Cayman
Islands Government in January 2009.

“There
were no objections to this application,” Mr. Ryan said. “It is objectively a
positive development for the North Sound ecosystem. If we did nothing with this
area of destroyed mangroves… we would… be missing an opportunity to restore an
area damaged by Ivan that, left on its own, might never recover fully or would
take many, many decades to do so.”

The
project calls for a seawall to be constructed behind the mangrove area to
provide a storm protection system for the property. 

“This
work will result in a 100 per cent increase in red mangrove habitat, which is
critical to the North Sound ecosystem,” Mr. Ryan said.  

Dragon
Bay team brought in environmental experts Haley & Aldrich to complete a
detailed environmental assessment in order to determine the best course of
action.  They found that since the damage
from Hurricane Ivan, there was minimal mangrove recovery in many areas, and no
health management of the red mangrove.

The
development plans for Dragon Bay also factor in the protection of local wildlife,
Mr. Ryan said.

“The
restored red mangrove area along the North Sound frontage will provide a habitat
for fish and marine life as well as for birds, reptiles and other fauna.”

The
clean-up efforts it will be rid the mangrove area of contaminating debris that
is currently posing a potential hazard to marine and terrestrial wildlife, Mr.
Ryan said.

“Beyond
the environmental impact of doing nothing, the area is also an ongoing eyesore
seen by the many visitors to our Islands who travel in and out of the North
Sound,” he said.

“We
plan to make the North Sound the front door to Dragon Bay, focusing on the
natural beauty of the Sound, and are also making it possible to navigate the
entire community by boat through the waterways, thus greatly reducing vehicular
traffic” Ryan continued. “Our vision is to share the beauty of the North Sound
and promote the lifestyle that is enjoyed by many who live and boat on these
waters.”

Eventually,
Ryan plans to shuttle Dragon Bay guests arriving at the airport to the
development by boat.

“From
the new Dragon Bay Terminal and dock that will be constructed at the airport, visitors
and residents alike can begin enjoying a unique over-water arrival experience
that is individual to Cayman,” he said.

As
part of the community development, the developers of Dragon Bay will also
construct a new Port Authority Marina and associated facilities to serve the
North Sound.

LOCALMangrovedamageSTORY

An aerial view of damage to the mangroves near Dragon Bay after Hurricane Ivan.
Submitted