July 13, 2002 – History, heritage and education were on Delegate Donna M. Christensen's congressional agenda this week.
At the request of the National Park Service, Christensen introduced a bill to expand the boundaries of the Salt River National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve by 24 acres. Brian Modeste, an aide to the delegate, said 15.5 acres of private land on the park's southern boundary is to be donated, and 8.5 acres on the western side is to be acquired by a combination of donation and purchase.
The smaller site includes a 4,800-square-foot house that will be turned into a visitor center, museum and headquarters for rangers and maintenance staff, he said.
"The Salt River Park, while stunning in its natural beauty, has no facility where visitors to the area can go and learn about the significance of the area to the islands, the nation and the world," Christensen said in a release issued Friday. While Modeste said the property with the house has yet to be appraised, Christensen said the price will be well below what it would cost to construct a new visitor center.
Christensen also introduced a bill that directs the Interior Department to study the feasibility of establishing National Heritage Areas on St. Croix. She said the island has natural, historic and cultural resources that represent distinctive aspects of American heritage and outstanding recreational and educational opportunities.
Both bills will enhance St. Croix's tourism product by capitalizing on its natural cultural and historical assets and making them eligible for funding and development, the delegate said. "St. Croix is in need of an economic boost, and this is one way to make it more attractive as a destination."
The third bill she introduced calls on Congress to urge U.S. schools to include study of the insular territories in their curriculums, including their history and the contributions of their people.
"Sadly, many students and adults across the [nation] do not know about the location or significance of our important people or places," Christensen said. She said individuals from the territories have made lasting contributions to the nation's history and culture in politics, athletics, music and other fields.
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