Partnership announced at Experimental Forest
Published: October 31, 2012
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ST. CROIX - A public and private partnership with forest research and exploration as the main goals was unveiled Tuesday afternoon with the inauguration of an open-air pavilion at Estate Thomas Experimental Forest.
Connie Carpenter, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided about $230,000 in funds to build the new outdoor pavilion and related facilities at the remote forest area located behind Sion Hill.
The experimental forest is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry and its director, Ariel Lugo, presented partnership awards to Carol Burke from St. Croix Environmental Association and Marilyn Chakroff from the V.I. Division of Forestry.
Chakroff said the learning opportunities for children at the forest area are endless, and they will derive the most benefit by being able to explore.
"Children don't know much about the outdoors or about turning over rocks to see what is underneath, and that could now change for many of them," she said. "We now have the chance to create foresters and naturalists of the future."
Burke said she is thrilled to have additional outlets for students that tie into SEA's educational program. For the last six years, the environmental organization has exposed students from three private schools and six public schools to the inner workings of forest research.
Carpenter said the Estate Thomas location is the most eastern experimental forest in the United States, and it is the only major public forest in the interior of St. Croix and was designated as a place to study subtropical dry forest ecosystems.
Gizelle Gonzalez, research project leader, presented a short history of the site and research opportunities there. Those in attendance also learned about the long-range plans for conservation education and interpretation, as well as the plans of the partner agencies to foster opportunities to work in the development of a conservation education program that takes advantage of the forest as a public resource.
Carpenter described Estate Thomas Experimental Forest as a place for the community to explore and learn the secrets of the forest's plants and animals, as well as being an outdoor laboratory where teachers can give students hands-on experiences that reinforce lessons in math and science from the classroom.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.