Intern Log : Alessia Isolani : June 2020

As we continue to adapt to the new normal here on St. John, we have been completing various projects both in the field and back in our Archive. Ken has been busy planning the archaeology lab and museum collections facility that the park aims to construct in the next couple years. He has also been in the process of hiring a new curator for the park. A curator will be a much-needed addition to our Cultural Resource Team.  The curator will be responsible for the cataloguing of 1000s of artifacts, and maintaining the park’s museum collection.

Anne Finney, who has been working with Cultural Resources at the park for many years now has been doing a lot of work reviewing the construction and stabilization plans for our historic structures, including Creque Marine on Hassel Island, Reef Bay, and the Annaberg Sugar Factory. The work that Anne does is vital to making sure that structures are repaired in historically appropriate ways, and that the cultural landscapes are accurately preserved for future generations.

We have evaluated a number of shovel tests in the Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay areas in order to prepare for potential construction sites. At Trunk Bay, we have been in the process of scouting locations for a new Reverse Osmosis plant. The goal is to make sure that the new construction will not impact the landscape views that visitors and residents experience, but also to ensure that there will be no damages to the c.900 AD pre-historic village site located at Trunk Bay. We were able to make use of the map we created back in September to decide what areas would reduce the risk of cultural impact. The proposed area for the new RO plant falls outside of the prehistoric site boundary, and we conducted a series of shovel tests as well as a pedestrian survey in order to ensure that there were no unknown sites or cultural relics anywhere within the site boundary.

We have also been out at Cinnamon Bay working on getting a bank of sand bags placed in order to slow the beach erosion and to protect untouched archaeology. The summer trail crew has been a huge help to us on this project. We have been able to place over 1000 bags so far, and hope that they will help to save the archaeology in this upcoming hurricane season. We are happy to report that the removal of the asbestos pipes at Cinnamon Bay will be beginning within the next few weeks. It was a disappointment to everyone when the reopening of the campground had to be postponed back in September when asbestos was found in a portion of the sewage pipe. However the concession team at Cinnamon has been working continuously on getting the campground space ready for reopening. During the pipe removal process Ken and I will be monitoring from a safe distance, checking to ensure that the archaeologically sensitive areas are not impacted and remain preserved. Years ago on a previous pipe project, a site dating to ~300 AD was discovered. Because the current work at Cinnamon Bay is being conducted within existing trenches—replacing old piping for new within the same space– we don’t expect to encounter any new prehistoric sites.

As we prepare for hurricane season we are also making sure all of our equipment, artifacts, and documents are stored safely.

Thank you to the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, Ken Wild, and NPS for supporting my internship.

Sandbag protection work at Cinnamon Bay with the Friends Trail Crew.