St Croix National Parks Birthdays
By David John Goldstein, Ph.D., RPA, Chief, Interpretation and Education, National Park Service
2012 is clearly one of the most exciting years for the National Parks on St. Croix. Buck Island Reef National Monument celebrates its 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed enabling legislation. Christiansted National Historic Site, with 60 years, and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, with 20 years, both celebrate anniversaries as National Parks. With these important milestones in mind we invite the public to come and see the new faces and changes taking place in each park.
At the end of February, Christiansted will complete its two-year-long restoration with the repair and repainting from hurricane Omar damage. We have generated a new walking tour of the ‘Free Gut’ neighborhood, Sunday and Thursday at 10:30 and by appointment (773-1460 x232), where park visitors can learn about the contributions of Free Blacks during the period of slavery and the legacy of this neighborhood. Several important Virgin Islanders called this neighborhood home from 1820- present. We also will open our newly renovated exhibit hall in Ft. Christiansvaern.
Presently, we are celebrating 20 years of Salt River Bay as a National Park with a photo exhibit and sculpture installation entitled ‘Columbus Landing.’ This exhibit shows some of the quiet natural beauty and activities of other frequent visitors to this famous Crucian beachhead. Additionally, we invite the public to come and see our visitor’s center above Columbus Landing if you have not yet done so. Come see it now, with the exhibit, and keep coming back to see future exhibits in years to come. The visitor’s center and exhibit is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 9:00-4:30, and by appointment (773-1460 x233)
Finally, we are in full swing celebrating the 50th anniversary of Buck Island Reef National Monument. We celebrate with the installation of a new pier at Diedrich’s Beach, the development of an on-island interpretive trail, and a commemorative exhibit at Ft. Christiansvaern highlighting the long term research at the park. Buck Island is one of the National Park Service’s great resource protection success stories. In the past 50 years we have preserved critical terrestrial and reef habitat for several protected, threatened and endangered species: Least Terns; Brown Pelicans; our native Ground Lizard; Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtles; and Elkhorn and Staghorn Corals. As one of the most studied reef systems in the Caribbean we have developed critical knowledge regarding the coral species that can survive and adapt to dynamically changing marine environments. Lastly, we have restored the vegetation and animal life by eradicating several invasive non-native species, including the Tree Rat. The exhibit at Ft. Christiansvaern discusses in detail these achievements and the overall history of the National Monument. The exhibit is open seven days of the week from 9:00-4:30 at Christiansted National Historic Site.
So please, during your visit to St. Croix this month, come and celebrate these anniversaries and the important achievements that we have made in all of our parks. We look forward to seeing you here with us!
For more information, call 773-1460 x 233.