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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Historic Salt River Site Getting Government Attention

March 14, 2005 – The Salt River beach where Columbus landed over 500 years ago, and where the first violent encounter between Europeans and Native Americans occurred is pretty in a rustic way.
There is just a small sign indicating the historic importance of the site.
Besides being the scene of that encounter, the site also has given up evidence of a Taino ball court, evidence that is changing the way Pre-Columbian history in the Virgin Islands is interpreted.
There is no sign telling visitors about the ball court. Its location is under a road used by campers on the beach. The National Park Service a year ago announced the opening of a visitor's information center, but as yet the visitors have not way of getting to the center. (See "Opening Of Salt River Visitor Center Celebrated ").
Not everyone is happy with this state of affairs and it has gained the attention of Senate President Lorraine L. Berry.
In a recent letter to Joel Tutein, superintendent of the St. Croix National Park Service; Berry said the partnership between the park service and the government is necessary in order to preserve the more than 1000 years of human history at the site.
Berry expressed concern over the lack of enforcement of local laws and massive amounts of trash being dumped on a regular basis. She suggested a meeting between V.I. officials and National Park officials.
Monday she announced a tour of site would be given to all the members of the 26th Legislature at 3 p.m. on March 21. She said the purpose of the tour is to gain information in order to develop sound legislation pertinent to the site.
In a press release announcing the tour she said, "It is particularly essential that co-management must bring with it a commitment to enforce local laws, the appropriation of local funds to maintain the site, and some level of mutual understanding about how the park will be managed by the government in partnership with the park service hopefully in perpetuity."
She also said she concurred with Tutein that the removal of sunken ships that have been in the area since 1999 was critical to the development of the Salt River site into a world class National Park.
One of the ships in the channel was given to the government for educational purposes. Berry said it should be salvaged and sent to the Educational Complex for restoration at one of its vocational education carpentry classes. She claimed the ship could be used to train the students how to sail the surrounding seas of St. Croix and experience "first-hand the value of and importance of the ocean to our existence."
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