Betty Langhorne, and Slim Young two North Americans with an abiding love for Vieques co-founded the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust in 1984. It was incorporated in 1985 as a non-profit Trust, under the laws of Puerto Rico. It is also a 501 (c) (3) corporation under US laws. Alison Flemer, Bill and Marian Littleford, Ray McNamara and Dr. Barbara Bernache-Baker were early and steadfast supporters. Under Myrna Pagán, the first president of the Trust, the VCHT forged an important link to the Vieques community that remains today.
The early members of the Trust recognized the need to protect the unique archeological, physical, cultural and ecological environment existing on Vieques. The finding of artifacts in the La Hueca area of Vieques by Dr Luis Chanlatte of the University of Puerto Rico, sparked an interest in preserving the area and the archeological remains found there. The VCHT museum was inaugurated in November of 1990.
As well, the founders had a strong interest in preserving the bioluminescent bays found on the island. The Trust succeeded in having the area around Puerto Mosquito, including Sun Bay, Cayo de Tierra and Cayo de Afuera and the surrounding waters, declared a Puerto Rico Patrimonial Natural Reserve. For years, Dr. Baker conducted research on Puerto Mosquito, bringing scientists from around the world to Vieques to study the phenomenon of bioluminescence. The Trust has been an active advocate to prevent light pollution, agricultural runoff and indiscriminate development from impacting the Bay and the delicate eco-system that supports it. Puerto Mosquito is one of the last remaining pristine bioluminescent bays in the world.
The Trust has always supported programs for young people, including workshops on pottery and reading at the Trust and in the schools, sponsorship for the 4-H summer camp, and the American Civics program. However, in early 2000, the Trust decided to make it a priority to focus on education, especially enhanced educational support for local Viequense children.
Beginning with the development of the Marine Life Exhibit in 2000, the scholarship program in 2005, and the Manta summer program in 2006, and with a renewed emphasis on environmental education for school aged children with its Global Warming Alert days starting in 2007, the Trust has been able to reach every school child in Vieques at least once a year.
In 2010, VCHT signed an agreement with PR Department of Natural Resources to co-manage Puerto Mosquito.
VCHT Presidents and Leaders
Genoveva (“Veva”) Marino
Charles Shanklin and Bill Littleford