Jan. 29, 2003 – If you're curious about the origins of the V.I. National park, join researcher Crystal Fortwangler on Monday evening for a free lecture in Cruz Bay on "Creating the National Park: A Look at the 1930s through the 1950s."
The lecture will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay.
"A lot of this information has never been presented publicly before," Fortwangler, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, said. She said most of the information comes from various archives she has utilized in the last six years of her research.
Fortwangler said she will relate the events having to do with the development of the park to world events in the same time frame. "This was part of a much bigger story that had to do with conservation," she said.
The park opened in 1956, but its roots go as far back as 1934 and 1939, when federal representatives visited St. John. A bill introduced in Congress in 1939 supported the creation of a St. John National Recreation Area, but the idea did not fly.
In the 1940s, a proposal was made to preserve St. John as a supply of fuel and wood for St. Thomas and St. Croix. Then-Gov. Charles Harwood asked that areas be set aside for the development of beaches, hotels and cottages. Another plan had St. John as part of a Caribbean chain of parks.
Fortwangler is working on her doctorate in anthropology and natural resources and has been spending part of each year on St. John working on her research projects.
Monday's program is sponsored by Friends of the V.I. National Park and the John's Folly Learning Institute. For more information, call Emily Burton in the Friends office at 779-4940.
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