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ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR SALT RIVER BAY NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK AND ECOLOGICAL PRESERVE
National Park Service
St. Croix, Virgin Islands
A proposed Marine Research and Education Center and demolition of an abandoned hotel structure located at the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve in St. Croix, Virgin Islands is being considered at the park and was analyzed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. As part of the NEPA process, the proposed center and hotel demolition was evaluated in an environmental assessment. EA prepared the environmental assessment which considered impacts to topics such as threatened and endangered species, mangroves, coral reefs, seagrasses, coastal barriers, floodplains, nesting bird colonies, recreation, visitor experience, cultural resources, and many more. The proposed location for the center and the planned hotel demolition necessitated the need for community outreach. EA was tasked with developing a newsletter, PowerPoint presentation, poster boards, handouts, and other information for the community outreach involvement program. EA also organized, presented, and participated in the community and agency scoping meetings for the project.
The park is considered the ideal location for the center. The 1,015-acre park is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the Government of the Virgin Islands whose goal is to preserve the area and promote the study of the unique resources associated with the park. The park provides a diverse ecosystem for study by representing the “Ridge to Reef” concept. Its location facilitates the center operation logistics providing easy access to the nearby resources. Salt River Bay contains prehistoric and colonial-era archaeological sites and ruins that are found in a dynamic, tropical ecosystem that supports threatened and endangered species. In 1992, Congress created Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve as part of the National Park System.
EA prepared the existing conditions and evaluated environmental impacts for three locations proposed for the siting of the center in the environmental assessment. EA participated in a Choosing by Advantages meeting/workshop for the National Park Service where a preferred alternative for the location of the center was selected using the Choosing by Advantages decision-making process. EA also evaluated the impacts of demolishing and removing debris associated with a partially constructed and abandoned hotel structure, located in a designated coastal zone. A National Park Service Statement of Findings for Wetlands and Floodplain Management and a Coastal Zone Consistency Determination was required for the project and EA prepared these documents.