Volunteers plant seedlings at Salt River
Published: July 20, 2012
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ST. CROIX - It was a day for planting at Salt River National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve on Thursday.
"It was a big success," David Goldstein, chief of interpretation and education for the National Park Service sites on St. Croix, said of a "plant-out" conducted at Salt River this week.
The National Park Service has been in the process of restoring a portion of Salt River Bay's coastal wetlands and uplands to enhance the diversity of native plants in areas that were "dramatically altered" during a failed hotel/marina development in the 1960s and 1970s, according to a statement the Park Service released.
In May, a team removed non-native exotic plants and applied low-impact herbicides to target species around the former hotel site and uplands adjoining the Mangrove Lagoon, according to the statement.
During the past year, local grower ARTFarm LLC was contracted and has been growing native plant seedlings from St. Croix seed stock for the project.
This week, the small trees and seedlings were ready to be set out, Goldstein said.
"They got almost a thousand plants in the ground," he said on Thursday.
National Park Service staff, the National Park Service South Florida/Caribbean Exotic Plant Management Team, its Summer 2012 Youth Conservation Corps participants, the Art Farm and Geographic Consulting VI participated in the project.
They were working on a swath of land just above the bioluminescent bay area and downslope from the Judith's Fancy development, Goldstein said.
About 2½ acres were replanted with native species, he said.
"This is a huge deal for us. It means we have a strategy to keep those down," he said of the non-native exotic plants that had taken over the area. "Now, we know how to get our trees to come in and compete and give them a fighting chance."
The species planted were indigenous, native species, such as wild cinnamon and sea grapes, he said.
The college and high school students that were part of the Youth Conservation Corps were key to getting the project done and provided the hands that did the planting and mulching, he said.
Researchers also were there to begin work that will lead to the planned continuation of the program next year: a large planting, at the Columbus landing visitor center, of local plants traditionally used for cultural purposes.
- Contact reporter Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email email@example.com.