Every story has a beginning. This is ours.
Save The Bays was born out of a landmark fight to save the unique area of New Providence Island known as Clifton Bay from development into a sprawling residential complex in the late 1990s. The 600-home, golf course would have disrupted delicate ecosystems and disturbed historic sites dating back more than a thousand years to the time that Lucayan Indian villages dotted the coastline.
A 2000 report to the Natural Resources Defense Council found the development of this crucial piece of shoreline would be “detrimental to the two most important coastal resources in The Bahamas: sandy beaches and living coral reefs.” Faced with the potential loss of what one archaeologist told the the New York Times was “a veritable Rosetta Stone for understanding life on the island from ancient times through 18th Century plantation life,” a group of motivated Bahamians, local and international environmentalists, preservationists and ultimately government officials came together to protect the area.
This show of solidarity that was unprecedented in the history of conservation efforts in The Bahamas and thanks to their efforts, the Clifton area is now an official heritage site, protected from development in perpetuity.
However, the collaborators realized that Clifton Bay remained under serious threat, both from a heavily polluting power plant and other industrial operations at its south end, and unregulated development at Nygard Cay to the north. In 2012, they formed The Coalition to Protect Clifton to take on these new battles.
Soon after, concerned residents of Bimini contacted the coalition. They heard about the victory at Clifton and asked for urgent help fighting an even more formidable and reckless development – a resort, casino and enormous cruise ship pier which they feared would lay waste to the tiny island gem and its pristine marine ecosystems.
Meanwhile, a decade before, many members of the new coalition took part in the brave but ultimately unsuccessful fight to protect Guana Cay and its surrounding reef from a resort, luxury second home complex and golf course that threatened to engulf yet another beautiful ecological treasure. Having failed to block the development in court despite a brave, five-year fight, the locals reached out to their former allies in the coalition for help in holding the developers to their promises to the community and environmental responsibilities under the law.
Clearly, what had narrowly been avoided at Clifton was happening nationwide. The coalition changed its name to Save the Bays and began fighting against unregulated development and for transparency and environmental accountability across The Bahamas.
Since 2013 we have: vocally challenged more than a dozen unsustainable development projects (STB or its Community Partners have championed six of these in court); successfully advocated for a overarching Environmental Protection Act; helped influence the introduction of a Freedom of Information Act; and helped influence the Bahamas government to take meaningful action against oil pollution and unsustainable waste disposal.
Working with local and international partners we also brought environmental education and safe swimming programs to more than 800 children in several islands of The Bahamas.
Today, the fight against unregulated development – and increasingly, oil pollution – continues.