Salt River National Park has received a $1.25 million federal grant to design a marine education and research center on St Croix, as announced by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior of Insular Areas, Anthony M. Babuata.

The center will be located on 7 acres of land on the eastern side of the Salt River Bay, which became a National Park in 1992. The 1,015 acre park includes the land and underwater territories surrounding Salt River Bay, with mangrove forests, coral reefs, estuaries and a submarine canyon.

Upon completion of the center, the Joint Institutes of Marine Studies including Rutgers, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, University of the Virgin Islands, and the University of South Carolina, will use the facilities for research and educational purposes.

First proposed in 2004 by Joel Tutein, National Park Service superintendent on St. Croix, he was granted $200,000 to do a feasibility study. So far, the federal government has supplied about $2 million in planning funds. This current grant will be for concept and design. Once the design is in place, an additional $30 to $50 million will be needed for the actual construction of the facility.

(resource: GoToStCroix)