Juvenile Fish Communities of Mangroves within Salt River Bay NHPEP May 14-18 2018
The National Park Service, in collaboration with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Biogeography Branch and Southeast Fisheries Science Center will be conducting field work in Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve to compare juvenile fish communities within the bay from today to those found in the 1990’s. The juvenile fish community along the mangroves in Sugar and Triton bay were quantitatively assessed in 1993 by Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources scientists (Adams and Tobias 1993). Since that time, the Salt River ecosystem has experienced a number of changes including restoration of hurricane-damaged habitats, development within the watersheds, and additional severe storms. This assessment seeks to repeat the trapping methodology used in the previous study to understand changes to the system and its present status. The overarching goal is to provide managers at DPNR and NPS with data to understand changes to the Salt River Bay ecosystem and the present day function of the mangroves as juvenile fish habitat.
During this one-week field mission we will finish construction of juvenile fish traps identical to those from Adams and Tobias (1993) and conduct the first assessment of fish in Sugar and Triton Bays. Three replicate traps will be set ~50 m apart at each of two sites in Sugar and Triton Bays (4 sites total) based on the figures and description in Adams and Tobias (1993). Traps will be baited with herring and soaked for 24 hours prior to retrieval. Captured fish will be identified, measured, photographed, and returned to their trapping location with minimum handling. Trapping will be conducted bi-monthly for a period of 1 year.
During this field mission, we will also seek to live-capture ~20 fish from the backreef, canyon, and White Horse Reef area using large chevron traps. This will be conducted to increase the sample size of fish for the telemetry project associated with this study. Target fish will be snapper over 20 cm TL. We will surgically implant them with coded acoustic transmitters and release them at the point of capture. As time permits, other activities will include collection of specimens for contaminant study and further search for missing receivers from Jan 2018
For more information about this study, please contact: Clayton Pollock, NPS Biologist at 340-773-1460 x 238.
National Park Week 2018!
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.
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.
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.