Click here to read the full press release from Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park Announces New Cinnamon Campground Operator and Immediate Cleanup for Redevelopment

"Virgin Islands National Park announces that Cinnamon Bay Campground and the food and beverage concessions at Trunk Bay will now be managed by CinnOpCo, LLC, fully backed by philanthropist and Bloomberg, LP co-founder, Thomas F. Secunda. The previous concessionaire, Redwoods Park Company, LLC and CinnOpCo have been working on an agreement for the past several months. On Friday, May 3, 2019 the National Park Service accepted the concessions change in ownership ushering in a new plan for redevelopment and restoring public access to camping in Virgin Islands National Park. CinnOpCo LLC aims to begin debris removal on Tuesday, May 7th.

Park Superintendent Nigel Fields expressed excitement on what this news means not only for Park visitors, but for the island of St. John. “With the level of damage Cinnamon Bay sustained in the 2017 hurricanes, the Park Service is fortunate to have an operator that is in tune with the people of St. John, has a history of conservation advocacy and is willing to make the investment needed to restore Cinnamon as a revered treasure of the national park system.” Although much cleanup, debris removal and rebuilding of the infrastructure remains ahead, Fields is optimistic in partnering with CinnOpCo and their shared vision to restore camping, cottages, food and retail service and watersports rentals back to Cinnamon Bay.

Superintendent Fields is urging the public to exercise caution when visiting Cinnamon Bay. Although the camping areas, restaurant, showers, and beach rental shop will remain closed, Park visitors will have continued access to Cinnamon Bay Beach and the onsite porta johns during this debris removal process. Visitors should adhere to posted safety signs.

Virgin Islands National Park News Release
1300 Cruz Bay Creek John, VI 00830
www.nps.gov/viis

Virgin Islands National Park U.S. Department of the Interior EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA ™ The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. should not enter into restricted areas at Cinnamon Bay where workers, equipment and large trucks will enter and exit the site.

The Park and CinnOpCo, will continue to provide regular updates as the cleanup, restoration and rebuilding will likely occur in phases over the next couple of years. For additional information please contact Chief of Commercial Services, Elba Richardson via 340-776-6201"

 

 


This is an image of the Cinnamon Bay Archaeology Lab taken after Hurricane Maria in September of 2017

Within hours of the passing of Hurricane Irma the Friends began receiving letters, emails and calls from our members, many of whom share a deep appreciation for our park's unique and valuable cultural resources. We also had a great many people ask about the well-being of our park staff, such as longtime St. John resident and park archaeologist, Ken Wild. Along with expressing an interest in replacing the Archaelogy Lab at Cinnamon, many people wrote to share their a deep appreciation for Ken's many years of work spent building our park's archaeology program. We reached out to Ken to hear his thoughts in the wake of the storm - his reply is below. We thank Ken for taking the time to share his reflections with us, and look forward to being able to continue to support the park's archeology program, for generations to come!

 Just a few weeks before Irma hit a team of climatologists came and gave a presentation on what to expect from future super hurricanes. We took them to Cinnamon Bay and discussed what will be lost and what we had done to prepare for the inevitable.  

Twenty-five years ago I along with fellow archaeologist Regina Leabo of the NPS excavated a small test unit at Cinnamon Bay. What we found was astonishing and completely unprecedented. The dirt at the beach edge had unbelievable preserved in near exact sequence, century atop century the last 500 years of prehistoric life here in the Virgin Islands. While we were there we saw how Hurricane Hugo had just recently demonstrated just how threatened this shoreline and site were by erosion.  

So when the Friends asked in 1998 what was an urgent and critical need that they could help with; it was without question saving these pristine chapters of the Caribbean’s history.  So began the park’s archaeology program.  Over the next several years excavations continued nearly non-stop and though only a small portion of the site was dug what was saved was remarkable. We discovered Classic Taino culture was here with all its elaborate art. That the site was their version of a church where ceremonial offerings were made providing us an insight into the meaning of Caribbean petroglyphs, prehistoric life, and the extent of cultural interaction from Puerto Rico to Dominican Republic to  Antiqua, and along the shores of South America.

We also discovered that the little white house on the beach was one of the oldest standing structures in the Virgin Island’s dating back to the sixteen hundreds. All the while we knew time to share all this new knowledge about this historic place and ancient site was limited. So the Friends helped us create a working lab with archaeological exhibits. It was designed so that the artifacts could be removed quickly and we could continue to work and interpret these ancient sites before they would be lost forever.

Well the massive hurricanes came a little sooner than even the climatologists predicted and yes it would have been nice to have had a few more years to share these wonderful discoveries on site. Nevertheless, the NPS mission was achieved, we had saved what we could and interpreted to our community and visitor as much of this treasured past and special place as was possible.

Having objects made by the people and cultures that came before us on display, provided us a timeline of physical proof of our islands rich past, inspiring a new appreciation for our island’s heritage in both an older and younger generation and a desire to preserve these treasure for all to enjoy. Now we have that chance to create a truly special place where we can insure our heritage is safe for all to see.  

The Friends has funded the Archaeology Interns Program since 1998.  You can learn more by visiting the Program section of this website. You can also read more about archaeology in VI National Park on the Archaeology Program Interns' blog, here. If you are interested in contributing to our future archeology projects including the replacement of the Cinnamon Bay Lab, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


 

Can you believe it is December? Neither can we! These days the sun shines brightly and a cool breeze steadily blows from the east, making it a wonderfully comfortable temperature. The sentiment around town is positive - the 2017 hurricane season is officially over! Although most everything on St. John is in a state of repair, green leaves cover disjointed branches fully and the colors of the island are vibrant. Incredibly, all of our park's 27 miles of trails are open! The beaches Honeymoon, Hawksnest, Cinnamon and Trunk have all been serviced by the park, and are clear of debris in the water and accessways as well. 

Our emergency trail crew of 4 men and 1 woman began work under the supervision of our trail coordinator Mark Gestwicki in early November. Since then they have cleared L'Esperance, Maria Hope Trail, and Bordeaux, all of which had serious tree fall with very large trees down. Now they are going back to improve trail tread, drainage, repairing any masonry structures caused by tree fall, heavy rains, etc. To the left is a before and after shot of their work along the Maria Hope trail. Quite impressive! Currently, they are working on Lindt Point and Caneel Hill which have large debris from (relatively) nearby Lindt Point housing. Next up the Francis Bay walking trail and revisiting trails with spurs that need to be re-established. 

Along side our trail crew, the National Park disaster relief team has done their share of impressive work as well. Acting Park Superintendent Darrell Echols joined our board meeting to share park news and progress with us directly and answer any questions. He explained the 3-stage approach to disaster relief (assessment, stabilization and recovery) but added that VI National Park was exceptional in every way, and truly challenging. Over the past three months he and his colleagues from National Parks around the nation have worked in relay fashion picking up projects and passing the baton to the next relief crew. At one point 200 NPS employees were on island working to help assess and stabilize the park. The Army Corps of Engineers has also been working with NPS to remove road debris from the park.

Unfortunately, 12 of our VINP park staff were displaced by the storm. Out of the 22 park houses, 6 were totally destroyed and 13 were badly damaged. NPS will need to repair and restore housing for staff before they can return to work. Additionally, park offices and research labs were damaged. On December 16th the last of the incident crew will leave and our park will enter into the 3rd phase of restoration - recovery. NPS will be working to get water back on at Cinnamon and Trunk so that the concessionaire there can prepare to repair and open back up. Vessel removal, infastructure repairs and other big projects have been submitted to congress for approval.
We are really grateful for everyone's hard work in getting our park to the state it is now. Looking forward to sharing more positive updates soon! 




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