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HomeNewsArchivesU.S. Senate Bills Would Give St. Croix National Heritage Protection

U.S. Senate Bills Would Give St. Croix National Heritage Protection

Oct. 2, 2006 — Two bills that might afford protection to St. Croix's natural and cultural resources got the nod by the U.S. Senate Friday and now await President Bush's signature to become law.
The first would designate the entire island of St. Croix as the St. Croix National Heritage Area, directing the Interior Department secretary to report on its feasibility. The second directs the secretary to determine the feasibility of making Castle Nugent Farms part of the National Park Service (NPS).
In order to name St. Croix a National Heritage Area, the secretary must determine whether the island has an "assemblage of natural, historic and cultural resources that together represent distinctive aspects of American heritage worthy of recognition, conservation, interpretation and continuing use."
Brian Modeste, an aide to Delegate Donna M. Christensen, said that giving St. Croix such a designation will enhance "visitorship" to the island. According to the National Heritage Area website, St. Croix would join 27 other areas around the country with this designation.
"A heritage area is a region in which residents, businesses and governments join together to preserve, promote and celebrate their heritage, culture and natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations," the website says.
In regard to the Castle Nugent Farms proposal, Modeste said, the bill doesn't specify what type of NPS facility it would be. "It's not predetermined," he said, ticking off several possibilities. "It could be an historic site, a monument or a park."
According to the bill, the 1400-acre Castle Nugent Farms is believed to be the largest remaining parcel of privately held land on St. Croix. A fringing reefs sits just offshore.
Property owner Caroline Gasperi said Monday that the great house built during the 1730s is not part of the proposal, but that in time her heirs would probably give the NPS first rights to buy the property. Gasperi said she's excited about the possibility of her family property becoming an NPS facility.
"I'm very anxious that this take place," she said. Gasperi's parents purchased the property in the 1950s.
The Castle Nugent website indicates that the farm first operated as a cotton plantation; sugar cane was planted later. Pottery fragments found at the site may be pre-Columbian in origin. The farm currently breeds Senepol cattle.
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