Salt River Bay’s Exhibit. The exhibit Pieces of the Past - The Human Story of Ancient St. Croix will reopen to the public in the second floor exhibit space of Fort Christiansvaern (Commandant’s Quarter). It will be available to visitors from Monday-Friday 9:00 AM-4:00 PM.
Hurricane Maria damaged the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve’s (NHP&EP) Visitor Contact Station. Our Park Volunteers (VIP’s) will interpret the Salt River Bay NHP&EP Exhibit from this new location inside Fort Christiansvaern at Christiansted National Historic Site. Our visitors will continue to enjoy the importance of this National Park unit. Tours will be led by our VIP’s throughout the week.
Free Gut Christiansted Walking Tour. This neighborhood was established at the onset of Danish Colonial rule on St. Croix as a place where frikulorte, ’free colored,’ could own property and live. The presenter will discuss the developments that made this neighborhood an incubator for social, political, and economic change in Christiansted, the Virgin Islands, and the Americas from 1747. Tours will be led by Assuring the Bonds of Legacy- Celeste Fahie on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Christiansted NHS Walking Tour. From the Sugar Plantation to Christiansted. Tours will be led by Ranger Benito Vegas. Monday-Friday 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Buck Island Reef NM Beach Clean-up. Concessionaries, park volunteers, and University of the Virgin Islands students. Group size is limited and pre-registration is required. Please contact the NPS at 340-773-1460 extension 230 to obtain the details on this community pride project. Pre-register at Caribbean Sea Adventures 340-773-2628 (limit 26 passengers) or Big Beard’s Adventure Tours at 340-773-4482 (limit 30 passengers). Thursday, April 26, 2018 9 AM to NOON.
Jazz in the Park hosted by Community Music, Inc., will be on Friday, April 27, 2018 5:30 PM-7:30 PM. An impressive roster of local and international jazz musicians including the talented Eddie Russell and his jazz band will be open to everyone. The Fort Parking Lot will be open until 8:00 PM.
We are celebrating National Park Week from April 21 to April 29, 2018. The theme for National Park Week in 2018 is “Park Stars,” celebrating everything from starry skies to superstar volunteers, park features, and resources. Parks, programs, and partners nationwide invite people everywhere to explore stories, experiences, and sites that brighten the National Park System and public lands. Christiansted National Historic Site will be celebrating this week with several exciting programs.
Christiansted National Historic Site Wharf Bulkhead Replacement
March 6 2018 The Christiansted National Historic Site will be replacing the Wharf Bulkhead along the harbor front of the Historic Site. Engineering and design phase to determine the appropriate materials, skirting and bulkhead construction method is underway. The project will replace the existing bulkhead structure and provide a newly constructed bulkhead for waterfront access, increased storm protection and emergency vessel response access.
The Project will be conducted in the series of phases; the park is now in the planning phase. A series of nine (9) boring sample will be drilled to assess geotechnical feasibility, to occur for two weeks beginning March 12, 2018. Operations will require a drilling rig on site to operate from the hours of 7am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. Drilling operations will produce noise and require closing off small portions of the park grounds. Access to the parking lot should not be affected, and there are no anticipated effects to historic structures. A map showing the locations of the proposed boring sites is available upon request.
The anticipated schedule for this project is:
Design Completion (approved drawings): 05/31/2019
Construction Contract Award: 09/15/2019
Construction Start (actual on-site mobilization and start of work): 10/15/2019
Construction Completion: 04/15/2020 (this is based only on a very rough estimate of a 6-month construction duration; this could change significantly depending on site condition).
During the construction phase, potential impacts to the Christiansted community will be minimalized as much as possible, but may effects to wharf area events, and to the traffic turnaround by King Christian Hotel.
Buck Island Reef National Monument - Resource Management Activities, March 2018
March 14 2018 The National Park Service (NPS) will be conducting a variety of resource management activities in the month of March. Below is a brief synopsis of the field projects that are currently underway and/or scheduled.
March 5–16: The NPS Resource Management Division will be working with our partners from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct in-water snorkel surveys for juvenile sea turtles at Buck Island Reef NM. Please be advised that researchers may be snorkeling in areas with routine boat traffic such as the areas near the Underwater Trail lagoon entrance and off West Beach anchoring area. Field surveys will be focused in areas to the south of the island near the lagoon channel markers but may include other areas within the Monument such as the patch reefs to the north of the island, and may extend outward to the East End Marine Park. The snorkeling researchers will carry dive flags to identify themselves to vessels in the areas. NPS boat will be in close proximity of the snorkelers maintaining continuous watch over their location and safety. Researchers and NPS staff may utilize either of the NPS vessels, CaraCara (Aluminum 26 ft Catamaran) or Kestrel (25 ft Boston Whaler), to conduct the study. Activities will be conducted during the day from sunrise until sunset.
March 12–16: The NPS Resource Management Division will be working with our partners from the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to conduct abundance and occupancy monitoring surveys of the St. Croix Ground Lizard (Ameiva polops). Please be advised that researchers may be conducting surveys across the entire the island in a variety of habitats. Activities will be conducted during the day, sunrise to sunset, with much of the monitoring being conducted during periods of peak ground lizard activity (10am to 2pm).
These surveys continue our long term monitoring of the St. Croix Ground Lizard population since their translocation to the island in 2008.
March 12–23: The NPS Resource Management Division will be working with our partners from the South Florida and Caribbean Network (SFCN) Inventory and Monitoring group to conduct surveys at long term coral monitoring sites in Salt River Historical Bay and Ecological Preserve. In addition, the team will also be conducting post hurricane assessments at select sites within Buck Island Reef National Monument to quantify changes in benthic habitat and fish community composition, as well as identifying potential locations for coral restoration activities.
March 19–30:The NPS Resource Management Division will be working with our partners from NOAA to collect data that will be used to generate 2D seafloor mosaics and 3D depth surfaces in shallow-water (<5m) environments using small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or more commonly referred to as drones. These activities will be conducted during daylight hours, within 500 meters distance of the pilot-in-charge (PIC), and within line-of-sight of the PIC. The UAS will be launched and recovered on the beach areas near the study sites off of West Beach. The study will be conducted during the early morning hours prior to the arrival of most concessionaire vessels and/or in the late afternoon when most visitors have left the island. This mission complies with Department of Interior Aviation policy and the UAS operator understands that operations will be conducted in accordance with the approved Project Aviation Safety Plan (PASP).
If you would like additional information about these studies, please contact: Clayton Pollock, NPS Biologist Ph 340-773-1460 x 238; e-mail us
The National Park Service thanks all of our community members and friends for 52 years of support for Buck Island Reef National Monument, and we look forward to an exciting year of events celebrating our unique resource.
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve - Native Plant Community Restoration at Salt River Bay
March 12, 2018 Beginning on March 15 2018, National Park Service (NPS) contractors will continue park project to restore native plant communities on the east side of Salt River Bay NHP & EP (SARI). The project work area is on NPS’s 72-acre parcel adjacent to Estate Judith’s Fancy, where invasive non-native plant species’ populations cover over 90% of the area. Discarded landscape plants and cuttings from surrounding area have invaded the area over the last 50+ years. In 2012, NPS, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Caribbean Exotic Plant Management Team, and NPS Youth Conservation Corps high school students initiated exotic plant control in the park and began native plant restoration. With contractor support NPS will continue to control targeted invasive non-native plants that displace native plant species and alter plant community diversity. These species alter nutrient and fire patterns, modify geomorphology, hydrology, and biogeochemistry and, reduce the site’s recreational uses. To date NPS has planted over 1200 native plants grown locally into the park lands on the east side of the bay. These plants survivorship is between 40-60% and many of the trees have grown to over 20 feet tall! However, these trees continue to be crowded out by non-native invasive African guinea grass. Over the next few weeks, an NPS contractor will target non-native plants such as guinea grass, tan-tan, rubber vine or purple allamanda, and Ginger Thomas, throughout the previously disturbed landscape. More native trees and shrubs will be planted to improve erosion control and plant diversity in the coastal area.
A recent NPS-funded vascular plant inventory of SARI recorded hundreds of acres dominated by non-native invasive species such as guinea grass, rubber vine, and tan-tan. These once-popular exotic landscape plants threaten the ecological integrity of the native flora and associated fauna on the island of St. Croix. To meet SARI’s management objectives and the NPS Organic Act, non-native invasive plants of immediate concern will be removed. Licensed, trained professionals under NPS contract will treat invasive plants and continue native plant re-introduction. Treatment within 25 feet of mangroves and shoreline will be treated through mechanical removal, hand pulling, cutting with weed eaters, and mowing in place. Outside of the shoreline area, the NPS contractor will mulch and mow, cut and treat only the stem and new growth (grasses) with an approved herbicide. No herbicide application will occur if rainfall is anticipated within 30 minutes of application or during high wind conditions.
NPS is committed to maintaining and enhancing the natural and cultural resources of Salt River Bay. We are continuing our invasive non-native plant maintenance program to ensure these nuisance species do not re-establish and native species are protected and habitat improved for plants, fruits, wildlife, and eventual recreational uses of the landscape.
The immediate goals of control / management of invasive non-native plants are: • Manage and reduce the populations of invasive non-native plants found on NPS lands within SARI. • Improve conditions for native flora and fauna and recreational uses. •Increase the public and territorial conservation agencies’ awareness of environmentally sound management practices and the potential threats from invasive non-native plant species. • Work with our park neighbors to control continued introduction of invasive non-native plants to the park.
For further information please contact Tyrone Brandyburg, Acting-Superintendent, 340/773-1460 x 222, Zandy Hillis-Starr, Chief Resource Management, 340/773-1460 x 235 or Clayton Pollock, Biologist, 340-773-1460 x 238 at Salt River Bay NHP & EP; Terri Hogan 970/267-7306 at Biological Resource Division, Fort Collins, CO, or Brian Lockwood, Florida/Caribbean Exotic Plant Management Team Liaison at 786-249-0073.
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve - Stabilize Threatened Historic Danish Well Tower
February 1 2018 The National Park Service Salt River Bay NHP & EP and NPS Historic Preservation Training Center Masonry Team will undertake the stabilization and restoration of the late 1700s Danish Well Tower, located on the west side of Sugar Bay, beginning February and March 2018. The tower was likely a water pumping mill used to funnel water through a channel for historic agriculture such like sugar cane. This tower is located on lands that were in cultivation as part of Estate Morningstar, 1750. The tower is constructed of stone masonry and coral block. It is approximately 16 feet in diameter and estimated to be over 40 feet high. The base of the tower has two arched entrances and the interior is open to the sky. This structure is one of only a handful of surviving well towers in the Virgin Islands and is a significant resource for St. Croix.
The tower has become structurally unstable due to the intrusion of surrounding vegetation, repeated wind storm events beginning with Hurricane Omar (2008), and most recently, severe flooding from Hurricane Maria (2017). Phase I of this project will undertake site clearing and clean-up of extensive hurricane debris in preparation to install drainage mitigation and bank stabilization, which will provide protection to the tower base and structure during severe storm flooding. In Phase II, the team will remove vegetation and undertake masonry inspections and repairs to the tower, replace missing stones, and place mortar caps on all skyward surfaces.
NPS will restore the forest landscape surrounding the Well Tower with native trees. A visitor parking/pull off area will also be installed, on the east side of the road. A short trail and educational waysides will guide visitors along a gravel foot path to the tower, which will provide several views of the tower and the surrounding forest.
During Well Tower construction the area will be closed for visitation. We appreciate our visiting public to keep a safe distance from tower and surrounding area.. We look forward to the completion of this long-awaited project and sharing this industrial archeological treasure and its story with our visitors.
The National Park Service thanks all of our community members and friends for 24 years of support for Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve.
Post-Hurricane Maria NPS Christiansted NHS, Buck Island Reef NM, and Salt River Bay NHP&EP Recovery Updates
October 5, 2018 Christiansted National Historic Site (CHRI), Buck Island Reef National Monument (BUIS), and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve (NHP&EP; SARI) remain under Incident Command managed by Eastern Incident Management Team out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. CHRI, BUIS, and SARI sustained damage from Hurricane Maria, mainly in the form of downed trees, loss of power, structural and building damage, shoreline erosion, and storm-washed debris. As of October 5th, Christiansted NHS (CHRI) remains to public while park conducts cleanup and building repairs, and the Government of the Virgin Islands works to restore power to Christiansted town. FEMA is currently operating the Disaster Relief Assistance Program in NPS Danish West India and Guinea Company Warehouse (Old Post Office Building) first floor from 12:00 to 5:00 (17:00) pm. The parking lot will remain closed.
The Salt River Bay NHP&EP Visitor Contact Station was badly damaged by Hurricane Maria and will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future.
Buck Island Reef National Monument sustained substantial damage to shoreline, vegetation and coral reef areas. All park facilities at Buck Island Reef NM above the high water mark are closed, including a 100 foot long cement pier on south side and the underwater trail area. Any visitors that enter Buck Island Reef NM do so at their own risk.
CAUTION: All Buck Island Reef NM private NPS aids-to-navigation, regulatory, boundary, information buoys are not on station and should not be used for navigation. The NPS is in process of re-establishing and correcting buoys. NPS Law Enforcement patrols are underway.
September 18, 2017 Christiansted National Historic Site has initiated the emergency response plan for the three National Park units on St. Croix, including Buck Island Reef National Monument and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve. Hurricane Maria will pass south of St. Croix Tuesday evening into Wednesday. In the interest of employee safety the parks will finalize these plans and shut down later today (Monday September 18 2017). The parks, facilities, and Concessioner operations will be closed Tuesday September 19 until further notice. The park will continue to monitor this system closely and will make decisions about park facilities on Thursday (September 21) or Friday (September 22). Once Hurricane Maria passes NPS staff will assess any damages and determine when the parks can be safely opened. Law enforcement will be on duty providing coverage during the normal operation period.
September 5, 2017 Christiansted National Historic Site has begun shut down procedures for the three National Park units on St. Croix, including Buck Island Reef National Monument and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, for today, September 5, 2017. The parks are closed today, and will remain closed until further notice. All facility and Concessioner operations will remain closed until further notice. Once Hurricane Irma passes NPS staff will assess any damages and determine when the parks can be safely opened.
Christiansted National Historic Site, located at the waterfront of Christiansted, St. Croix, is comprised of five historic buildings constructed between 1740 and 1835, which served as the center of power and government for the Danish West Indies throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The park is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The entrance fee for Christiansted National Historic Site is $3 for adults, and children under the age of 16 are free.
Slave Wrecks Project - Community Archeology at Christiansted National Historic Site
June 28, 2017 The National Park Service-Christiansted National Historic Site is pleased to announce the second field season of the Slave Wrecks Project Community Archeology Program. Archeologists from the NPS’ Southeast Archeological Center will be conducting investigations at the site of the 1750s Danish West India and Guinea Company Warehouse, excavating the locations of the residences of enslaved Africans (Royal Slaves) who lived and worked in the Danish governmental complex at Fort Christiansvaern. The archeologists are also joined by student interns from the University of the Virgin Islands and Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark. This program is part of a multilateral collaboration with the Christiansted National Historic Site, the University of the Virgin Islands, and other community partners, in a multi-year effort that combines research and archaeology in underwater and on land sites, with public engagement activities including educational and training programs, museum exhibits, professional internships, and archival and genealogical research. This program of community engaged research is part of the NPS’ efforts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the transfer of the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States.
The team will also conduct a remote sensing survey, including ground penetrating radar and magnetometry, for the archeological field school being conducted at the Nature Conservancy’s property Estate Little Princess being led by the Society for Black Archaeologists. It is hoped that this survey will identify archeological features not visible above the ground, and will guide future excavations at the site.
In 2015, the National Park Service launched the first SWP research efforts in US territorial waters and the Western Hemisphere – a survey, inventory, and assessment of submerged resources at Buck Island National Monument (BUIS) St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to look for two slave ships that wrecked off the island’s reefs, the Mary and the General Abercrombie. This work will be used in conjunction with investigations on land sites that are all related to St. Croix’s unique history as an epicenter of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Archeologists from the NPS’ Submerged Resources Center (SRC) and the Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC), in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and George Washington University, are locating and documenting archeological sites both above and underwater associated with the historic trade of enslaved Africans.
About the Slave Wrecks Project: Since 2010, the Slave Wrecks Project (SWP) has fostered public and scholarly understanding of the role of the African slave trade in shaping global history by using maritime archeology as the vehicle for examining enslavement and its far-reaching global impacts. The archeological investigation of slaver shipwrecks and related terrestrial sites, such as markets in which the enslaved were sold like Christiansted National Historic Site, maroon sites and encampments, and free black communities, promises to provide a new perspective to bear on our understanding of the Trans-Atlantic and Indian Ocean trades in enslaved people and on the central role that this process played in constituting the modern world.
The SWP is an international network of researchers and institutions that combines collaborative maritime exploration and investigation with training, heritage protection, exhibits, and education to build and share new knowledge about the history of the global slave trade. SWP partners work in museums and in archives, on coastlines, and in the sea in a dynamic approach to public history that intersects with the latest in science, archaeology, anthropology, and historical research. SWP is building a global network with local and regional roots and works in a growing list of locations from Mozambique to South Africa to St. Croix, Senegal, Brazil, and Cuba.
People of all ages are welcome to join the archeologists weekdays beginning July 5 – July 21, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm., to get their hands dirty and learn about local history and archeology. Members of the press are invited to visit during our Open House on Wednesday July 19, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. For more information please contact Dr. Meredith Hardy, Christiansted National Historic Site, (340) 773.1460, e-mail us, or Zandy Hillis-Starr, e-mail us.
Christiansted National Historic Site - Closing of Church and Hospital Streets for Trench Excavations, July 5-7 and July 10, 2017
June 27, 2017
Christiansted National Historic Site will be installing fire and security systems in four of the National Park Service historic buildings in Christiansted. These systems will bring these 18th and 19th century buildings up to code for National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) structural fire code requirements. The buildings will have hard-wired smoke and motion detectors, annunciators, fire alarm strobe lights and horns, and closed circuit television and video management systems (CCTV). These systems will significantly expand our capability to monitor numerous activities related to public use and park operations, and will improve response time in identifying incidents with the potential to cause substantial injury or loss of life, and damage asset and property.
These activities will require trenching on the grounds of the park, along sidewalks, and across Church and Hospital Streets. This will require the closing of Church and Hospital Streets and the rerouting of traffic for four days, July 5 through 7, and July 10, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The National Park Service apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause, and appreciates everyone’s patience as we complete this critical project