September 22, 2018, is the 25th anniversary of National Public Lands Day. People all around the country will be volunteering and enjoying Parks, and we encourage you to do the same on St. Croix!
The Island of St. Croix is but 87 square miles — Rhode Island, the smallest state, is 1,034 square miles. Fortunately, much public land has been designated as national, territorial and municipal parks, recreation areas, historic sites, wildlife refuges, forests, shores, marine preserves, wetlands and more.
In 1916, the National Park Service was created “to conserve the scenery, and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and… leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The National Park Service is a federal landholder under the Department of the Interior and manages parks in United States, U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa. Some protected areas are managed as wilderness, while others allow commercial use and harvest.
St. Croix is home to three properties jointly managed by the National Park Service and the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands:
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument is a National Park Service property established in 1961 by John F. Kennedy. The land and underwater Park property is located about 1-1/2 miles off the northeast shore of St. Croix. The protected Park is comprised of the 176 acre uninhabited Buck Island, a sanctuary for the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and other species nesting at Turtle Beach on the west end, the Land Lizard, brown pelicans and least terns, as well as 18,839 acres of underwater Elkhorn and Staghorn coral gardens and colorful marine life.
Christiansted National Historic District
Christiansted became a historic site in 1952. A visit to the downtown Christiansted National Historic District will include 18th Century architecture and the 7-acre site of Fort Christianvaern. The Fort has a gorgeous waterfront sweeping lawn that hosts community events like Jazz in the Park and movies. The historic Danish Count House and the oldest Church on the island now known as the Steeple Building.
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve
The Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve is a National Park Service property established in 1992. The 1,015 acre Park is on North Shore Road/Route 75 at Salt River Bay in Christiansted. These vitally important land and sea ecosystems are blended with prehistoric and colonial-era archaeological sites. Here you can see the bioluminescence with Bush Tribe Eco Adventures or visit the site where Columbus landed in 1493 and encountered the pre-Columbian indigenous peoples inhabiting the island.
National Park Service Fun Facts
- In 2017, more than 84 million people visited U.S. National Parks.
- A National Parks Service report from 2015 shows that 148,753 people visited the National Park Units on St. Croix and spent nearly $8.5 million in communities near the Parks.
- That spending supported 105 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $10,232,200.