The new Francis Bay Boardwalk Observation Deck, which replaces one destroyed during hurricanes Irma and Maria, is now finished, according to the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park (VINP).
VINP suffered significant damages from these storms, particularly Irma. There was significant damage to park residences, facilities and venues including the Francis Bay Boardwalk and its observation deck. In 2018, the Friends directed dozens of volunteers to rebuild the boardwalk along with a generous donation made by the V.I. Audubon Society of St. John.
High water in the adjoining marsh prevented the rebuilding of a popular bird observation deck until last month. Now, visitors to the Francis Bay Boardwalk can rest and view wildlife from the deck. Early most Friday mornings, Laurel Brannick, National Park Service interpretive ranger, leads a bird watching trip in Francis Bay that will utilize the observation deck.
Todd Sampsell, Friends of VINP president, visited the boardwalk this past weekend and talked to a local family enjoying the observation deck. “Children were watching crabs dart around the base of the deck while mom and dad enjoyed a rest during their afternoon walk.”
Part of the mission of the Friends is to help connect locals and visitors to the park. “It’s great to see children enjoying nature because it will help ensure they grow up with a sense of its importance to all of our lives and an interest in helping protect it,” said Sampsell.
The Friends thanks Bigrigg Cranford Construction Company for donating much of the construction labor. This project was funded by the hundreds of individuals who donated to help restore the park after hurricanes Irma and Maria.
For more information on getting involved with the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, visit www.friendsvinp.org