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Tropic news. Volume 9. Issue 5.

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Tropic news. Volume 9. Issue 5.
Series Title:
Tropic news
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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Caribbean ( LCSH )
Newspapers -- Caribbean ( LCSH )
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North America -- United States Virgin Islands
Caribbean

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TROPIC NEWS


-p DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL
RESOURCES
February 1997


DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Volume 9 Number 5


Salt River Bay, St. Croix
Preserving natural and historic riches

Salt River Bay, a recent addition to the National
Park System, is one of the most remarkable natu-
ral and archaeological areas in the Caribbean. Salt
River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological
Preserve is considered by some to be a biological
lifeboat for the Virgin Islands. Little more than a
speck in the Caribbean Sea, the 912 acre park is a
microcosm of the diverse natural and cultural
history of the West Indies. Owners of the park
(water and land) are comprised of Federal, Territo-
rial and private parties. The Salt River Bay area
contains upland forest, freshwater wetlands, man-
groves, a salt pond, and an estuary with sea grass
beds, coral reefs, and a spectacular submarine
canyon.
In addition to the ecological value, the Salt
River Bay location is equally important in a his-
torical aspect. A National Park Service study
states; "Salt River Bay has long been recognized as
an area with important cultural resources. Excava-
tion of village middens (refuse heaps), ball court
features, and burials have provided evidence for
the interpretation of Caribbean life prior to Euro-
pean settlement. Such sites have significance
because European exploration almost immediately
eliminated ancient life-styles."
Salt River Bay's natural resources are as im-
pressive as its cultural and historical aspects. The
area's ecosystem supports 28 federally or locally
endangered animal and plants, such as green and
hawksbill turtles and Vahl's boxwood and swamp
fern. A total of 110 species of birds has been re-
corded at Salt River Bay. Twenty-six species, more
than half the number that breeds on St. Croix, nest
at Salt River Bay. Other birds rely on the area to
roost or feed. Among those found here are great
and snowy egrets, great blue and tricolored herons,
West Indian whistling and ruddy ducks, clapper
rail, Caribbean coot, least tern, piping plover, and
white-crowned pigeon. Familiar North American
songbirds, such as warblers and vireos, also de-
pend on Salt River Bay as a stopover during migra-
tion. Many of these birds stay in the Caribbean
from October through March and depend upon
healthy mangroves and hillside forests for their
survival.


salt niver Bay



St. Croix


a 4R7


The land below the hillside forest is made up of
stands of buttonwood and white, black and red
mangroves. At the edge of the estuary, great
tangles of red mangrove roots support algae and
form nursery areas for an abundance of fish, shell-
fish, and crustaceans. As the water flow continues
seaward, it passes over sea grass beds and their
abundant marine life, nourishing these valuable
habitats. The flow continues towards the coral
gardens and reefs. These habitats support a di-
verse collection of marine life and provide valuable
spawning and nursery areas for many species of
fish and crustaceans. Beyond the reef, the subma-
rine canyon forms a long north-south trench, whose
steep walls are covered with a variety of deep
water coral and sponges.
Because of Salt River's wealth of natural and
cultural resources, Salt River Bay was declared a
national historic landmark in 1960 and a natural
landmark in 1980. It is the only site to receive both
designations.
In 1985 the Virgin Islands-Columbus Jubilee
Committee became one of the first groups to sug-
gest that Salt River Bay be declared a national
park. The plan to establish a park and to preserve
this site has come a long way. Finally in February
1992, President Bush signed the bill into law
making Salt River Bay a National Park. The bill
was introduced by Del. Ron Delugo and Virdin
Brown (then president of the Virgin Islands sen-
ate).
National Parks and Conservation Association
President Paul C. Pritchard said of setting aside
the 912 acre park, There could be no better way of
marking the 500th anniversary of the Columbian
expeditions than preserving one of the last un-
spoiled areas in the West Indies."
Article by Roland Wauer, Partial excerpt from National
Parks. Vol. 66. No. 9-10. SeDtember/October 1992


-g~p ~ -%IBe~







The following is a list of significant dates in the
history of the Salt River Park.

1923 Danish archeologist Gudmund Hatt un-
earthed a Mayan-like ceremonial ball court and artifacts
associated with that game on the western shore of Salt
River Bay. The carved stones were moved to Denmark;
they are currently at the Danish National Museum in
Copenhagen.


1930's D. Hamilton Jackson sent zumis, collars
and other artifacts to the Heye Museum for protection.


Jul 7, 1958 Act No. 350, "Acquisition and Devel-
opment of Certain Areas as an Historical and Recre-
ational Area, authorized and directed the Governor to
acquire fifty acres at Salt River and enter into agree-
ments with any Federal agency for the purpose of
promoting, developing, maintaining and administering
the areas acquired.


1961 Five acres on the western point of Salt
River Bay were purchased by the Government of the
Virgin Islands. Known as the Columbus Landing Site,
the site contains aboriginal artifacts and remains dating
from AD 350, a village, ceremonial center and ball court,
and a 17th century earthen fort known as Fort Sale. In
1965 the site was given National Historic Landmark
status; protection is mandated as a condition for status
designation.


1971 The Nature Conservancy received a dona-
tion of 12.5 acres on the east side of Salt River Bay, and
established the Triton Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.


Feb. 19, 1980 690-acres of Salt River and
Sugar Bays together with the shoreline, was designated
as a National Natural Landmark by the Department of
Interior. The area contains a significant tropical reef
system and biologically rich submarine canyon as well
as the largest remaining mangrove forest in the USVI.
The USFWS considers it a Nationally Significant Wild-
life Habitat. Note that Salt River Bay is one of the only
2,300 National Natural Landmarks nationwide that
carries the joint designation of National Natural Land-
mark and National Historic Landmark.

1988 Salt River Bay was identified by the Na-
tional Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the
eleven most endangered nationally significant historic
places in the United States and Territories.

Feb 24, 1992 President Bush signed an act
which provided for the establishment of a Salt River
Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve at
St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

Jan 8, 1993 The Secretary of the DOI appoints
eight members to the Salt River Park Commission. The
role of the Commission is to advise the Secretary in the
development of a general management plan which is to
be developed within three years following the establish-
ment of federal funding.

Next month we will discuss issues which the Salt
River Bay Park is currently facing.


This newsletter was funded by the US
Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and
Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean
Fishery Management Council and the
Government of the VI.


Donna M. Griffin Editor
Ralf H. Boulon Jr. Chief of Environmental Education


GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
OF THE UNITED STATES
******
Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
6291 Estate Nazareth 101
St Thomas, USVI 00802-1104
(809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (STX.)






Address Correction Requested


BULK RATE
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.
PERMIT NO. 35











Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper
Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper




Full Text

PAGE 1

T .! I ---"" . DIVISION OF FISH AND Wll.DLIFE DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL RESOURCES February 1997 Volume 9 Number 5 Salt River Bay, St. Croix Preserving natural and historic riches Salt River Bay, a recent addition to the National Park System, is one of the most remarkable natural and archaeological areas in the Caribbean. Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve is considered by some to be a biological lifeboat for the Virgin Islands. Little more than a speck in the Caribbean Sea, the 912 acre park is a microcosm of the diverse natural and cultural history of the West Indies. Owners of the park (water and land) are comprised of Federal, Territorial and private parties. The Salt River Bay area contains upland forest, freshwater wetlands, mangroves, a salt pond, and an estuary with sea grass beds, coral reefs, and a spectacular submarine canyon. In addition to the ecological value, the Salt River Bay location is equally important in a historical aspect. A National Park Service study states; "Salt River Bay has long been recognized as an area with important cultural resources. Excavation of village middens (refuse heaps), ball court features, and burials have provided evidence for the interpretation of Caribbean life prior to European settlement. Such sites have significance because European exploration almost immediately eliminated ancient life-styles." Salt River Bay's natural resources are as impressive as i~ cultural and historical aspects. The area's ecosystem supports 28 federally or locally endangered animal and plan~, such as green and hawksbill turtles and Vahl's boxwood and swamp fern. A total of 110 species of birds has been recorded at Salt River Bay. Twenty-six species, more than half the number that breeds on St. Croix, nest at Salt River Bay. Other birds rely on the area to roost or feed. Among those found here are great and snowy egre~, great blue and tricolored herons, West Indian whistling and ruddy ducks, clapper rail, Caribbean coot, least tern, piping plover, and white-crowned pigeon. Familiar North American songbirds, such as warblers and vireos, also depend on Salt River Bay as a stopover during migration. Many of these birds stay in the Caribbean from October through March and depend upon healthy mangroves and hillside forests for their survival. The land below the hillside forest is made up of stands of buttonwood and white, black and red mangroves. At the edge of the estuary, great tangles of red mangrove roots support algae and form nursery areas for an abundance of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. As the water flow continues seaward, it passes over sea grass beds and their abundant marine life, nourishing these valuable habitats. The flow continues towards the coral gardens and reefs. These habitats support a diverse collection of marine life and provide valuable spawning and nursery areas for many species of fish and crustaceans. Beyond the reef, the submarine canyon forms a long north-south trench, whose steep walls are covered with a variety of deep water coral and sponges. Because of Salt River's wealth of natural and cultural resources, Salt River Bay was declared a national historic landmark in 1960 and a natural landmark in 1980. It is the only site to receive both designations. In 1985 the Virgin Islands-Columbus Jubilee Committee became one of the first groups to suggest that Salt River Bay be declared a national park. The plan to establish a park and to preserve this site has come a long way. Finally in February 1992, President Bush signed the bill into law making Salt River Bay a National Park. The bill was introduced by Del. Ron Delugo and Virdin Brown (then president of the Virgin Islands senate). National Parks and Conservation Association President Paul C. Pritchard said of setting aside the 912 acre park," There could be no better way of marking the 500th anniversary of the Columbian expeditions than preserving one of the last unspoiled areas in the West Indies." Article by Roland Wauer, Partial excerpt from National Parks, Vol. 66. No. 9-10. September/October 1992

PAGE 2

Thefol)ow.ing is a list of significant dates in the histOry of the Salt River Park. Feb. 19, 1980 690-acres of Salt River and Sugar Bays together with the shoreline, was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the Department of Interior. The area contains a significant tropical reef system and biologically rich submarine canyon as well as the largest remaining mangrove forest in the USVI. The USFWS considers it a Nationally Significant Wildlife Habitat. Note that Salt River Bay is one of the only 2,300 National Natural Landmarks nationwide that carries the joint designation of National Natural Landmark and National Historic Landmark. 1923 Danish archeologist Gudmund Hatt unearthed a Mayan-like ceremonial ball court and artifacts associated With that game on the western shore of Salt River Bay. The carved stones were moved to Denmark; they are currently at the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen. 1930's D. Hamilton Jackson sent zumis, collars and other artifacts to the Heye Museum for protection. 1988 Salt River Bay was identified by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the eleven most endangered nationally significant historic places in the United States and Territories. Jul7,1958 Act No. 350, "Acquisition and Development of Certain Areas as an Historical and Recreational Area," authorized and directed the Governor to acquire fifty acres at Salt River and enter into agree~entswith any Federal agency for the purpose of .. .., promoting, developing, maintaining and administering .., the areas acquired. Feb 24, 1992 President Bush signed an act which provided for the establishment of a Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve at St. Croix, Virgin Islands. 1961 Five acres on the western point of Salt River Bay were purchased by the Government of the .virgin Islands... Known as the Columbus Landing Site, the site contains aboriginal artifacts and remains dating I from AD 350, a village, ceremonial center and ball court, and a 17th century earthen fort known as Fort Sale. In 1965 the site was given National Historic Landmark status; protection is mandated as a condition for status designation. Next month we will discuss issues which the Salt River Bay Park is currently facing. 1971 The Nature Conservancy received a donation of 12.5 acres on the east side of Salt River Bay, and established the Triton Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. . This newsletter was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean Fishery Management Council and the ~Government of the VI. Donna M. Griffin Editor Ralf H. Boulon Jr. Chief of Environmental Education BULK RATE U.S. POSTAGE PAID CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V. PERMIT NO. 35 GQVE~OFnm VIRGIN ISLANDS " OF nm UNIlED STAlES ****** Department of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife " i.')i~ 6291 Estate Nazareth 101 c" " StThomas, USVI 00802-11C» " :. .(809)775-6762 (ST. T .), (809)772-1955 (ST X.) Address Correction Requested ~ Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper Jan 8, 1993 The Secretary of the DOl appoints eight members to the Salt River Park Commission. The role of the Commission is to advise the Secretary in the development of a general management plan which is to be developed within three years following the establishment offederal funding.