Public Meeting on Park Consolidation

Monday, August 7th at 6 pm in the Danish West India and Guinea Company Warehouse there will be a meeting hosted by Delegate Plaskett to discuss the proposal to “restructure” the management of the Caribbean National Park units.

The Friends of the St. Croix National Parks hope that you will come out and lend your voice in support of our Parks as the details of this restructuring are revealed. We have reached out to our St. Croix Park staff to get a better understanding of this proposed change but for the most part they are learning the details from the same news articles that we are. They have shared some facts with us which we list here, along with some of our own observations:

This proposal seems to have originated with NPS Southeastern Regional Director Stan Austin.

The superintendent with the most seniority in the Caribbean is our Superintendent Joel Tutein who is a native of St. Croix and who has worked his entire NPS career in the St. Croix National Parks.

Rather than selecting a native of the region, the Regional director chose Randy Lavasseur, a Californian who transferred from his former position as Chief Law Enforcement Ranger at Golden Gate National Recreation Area to become the Superintendent of San Juan National Historic Site in January of this year.

Our St. Croix parks fought very hard for a very long time to win equal status and representation within the region in the late ’90s and early 00’s. Before that time our St. Croix parks were “managed” by Virgin Islands National Park on St. John. Our parks budgets were siphoned off and the promised administrative support from VINP favored St John while our parks on St. Croix suffered.

Since winning their autonomy our parks have brought international attention to St. Croix, including accolades for pioneering scientific research, groundbreaking cultural stewardship, and uniquely effective community engagement. For example:

Buck Island’s status as a Marine Protected Area is a model for MPAs around the world. The Buck Island Sea Turtle Research Project is one of the oldest and most effective ongoing programs of its kind in the world and it is leading the way for global endangered species conservation.

The Slave Wrecks Project links Christiansted and St. Croix to the international community of research into the historic and cultural context of slavery and the slave trade, and its impacts on our lives and culture today, and that research is being conducted by local youth and volunteers in partnership with trained professionals from the Park Service and scholars from the US, Denmark, Senegal, and Mozambique to name just a few.

Every Summer the St. Croix Parks have employed 30-50 young Crucians in the Youth Conservation Corps program where they are paid to participate in every aspect of our National Parks and help keep our parks in good condition.

All of these accomplishments (and these are just a few of our St. Croix Park’s many successes) have come about since our St. Croix parks won recognition as equal parks within the Southeastern Region, and few if any of them would have been possible under the previous “consolidation” scheme.

If you value our natural and cultural heritage, and if you wish to preserve St. Croix Parks’ reputation for excellence, and if you wish to continue to see the kinds of opportunities for youth and our community engagement we hope you will join us in supporting our Parks.

Thursday Lecture: Alexander Hamilton & Caribbean History Museum Project Update

On Thursday, August 10, 5:30 pm, Anthony Weeks, Managing Director, will introduce the AHCHM Project Leadership Team, Matthew Beem, Michael Newton, Gerville Larsen, Precious Morris Yearwood, Wayne Nichols, and Rachel Bodner. A portion of this lecture will be presented by Skype live video.

The St. Croix Economic Development Initiative (SEDI) has announced plans to build a world-class museum in the Christiansted Historic District, a development to be called the Alexander Hamilton & Caribbean History Museum (AHCHM).

This museum project will not only celebrate Alexander Hamilton, who spent his formative years here on St. Croix, but will educate and promote the rich history of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean Region.

The AHCHM Project’s mission is to elevate the island of St. Croix to historical prominence. Mr. Weeks and Mr. Beem will speak of the museum importance and the overall socio-economic impact. “This undertaking is SEDI’s primary initiative in the roll-out and implementation of its major Jump-Start Tourism Economic Development Initiative,” says Weeks.