After serving three years as the top brass in the Virgin Islands National Park, Art Frederick is heading to Atlanta.
Frederick, who began his stint as Superintendent of the VINP in 2003, headed to Georgia on September 26 to take over as the new National Park Service’s Deputy Regional Director for the Southeast.
Before he left, however, the former superintendent said the beauty and the people of St. John are what he will miss most.
“I am going to miss, of course, the natural beauty of the Virgin Islands as well as the friends that I’ve made and the closeness of the community,” Frederick said. “It’s been a really rewarding experience to be the Superintendent of the V.I. National Park and, on the other hand, it’s been so rewarding working with various entities of the community towards the promotion of the good quality of life here on St. John.”
Frederick has worked for the National Park Service for more than 20 years in facilities from Florida to New Jersey. The Florida State University graduate, who earned a double major in history and political science with a minor in sociology, said he knew he wanted to be a park ranger from a young age.
“When I was 14, my brother and I were fishing in the Everglades and we encountered a ranger who spent 45 minutes telling us all about the marine resources of the Glades,” Frederick said. “As he walked away, I said ‘that is what I want to be in life.’”
Frederick, who started his NPS career at Fort Caroline National Monument as an interpretive ranger, rose to the level of chief ranger, and eventually superintendent of the VINP.
Although his new position in Atlanta is a great opportunity, the excitement is bitter sweet, the veteran ranger explained.
Difficult To Leave
“This is a great opportunity and I’m really pleased that I was selected for this position, although I hate leaving St. John,” Frederick said. “This VINP is a wonderful and very precious resource in the National Park System, but, more importantly, I have made a number of friends and I hate leaving the personal friends.”
“It has been very difficult to leave,” the former superintendent added.
Devoted Staff Is Praised
Frederick will also miss the people he has worked with over the past three years, he said.
“I wouldn’t have been an effective superintendent if not for having a devoted and dedicated staff,” the former head of the VINP said. “I would not have accomplished any projects without the people who work here in the park.”
“I can’t say enough about the staff here at the VINP,” Frederick continued. “They are employees who love this resource and work very hard for the continued protection and preservation of the resource.”
Frederick will be missed by his colleagues.
“I very much appreciated working with Art while he was here,” said Rafe Boulon, Chief of Resource Management for the VINP. “He was very conservative of the park’s resource management. We will miss him a lot.”
Under Frederick’s leadership, the VINP implemented a number of programs, including the renovation of facilities at Hawksnest Beach and launching the process of implementing a new General Management Plan, which will be up for review during another round of public hearings in February or March of 2007.
North Shore Road Improvements
“The General Management Plan is a key document for guiding the park over the next 15 to 20 years,” said Frederick. “Initiating that process was certainly a significant achievement. Also, the North Shore Road had not had any work done for the past 20 years or so.”
“Although it won’t be completed until 2008, that is a significant achievement as well,” Frederick added.
Walter Chavez, the Superintendent of the San Juan National Historic Site, will take over as Acting Superintendent of the VINP for the next four months, before a permanent superintendent is hired in early 2007.
Preserving Estate Maho Bay and expanding the Coral Reef National Monument are projects that must continue under the new VINP leadership, the former superintendent explained.
Coral Reef National Monument Expansion
“A very important project that we need to complete is Maho Bay,” Frederick said. “We need to continue, as we’ve done since the very beginning, to work with the Trust for Public Land to put a closure on the Maho Bay land transaction. The park also needs to continue to work with the V.I. Territorial government to close the wedge in the Coral Reef National Monument.”
“That is very important because it addresses jurisdiction issues within the Coral Reef National Monument and it would be a great benefit to the fishing community to have an additional 12 to 13 hectares of fishing area on the south east end of St. John,” Frederick continued.
Relocating Island School
Another project, which the VINP has worked on for the past 15 years, is the relocation of the Julius E. Sprauve School, Frederick explained.
“I did work extremely aggressively with the island administrator to make the land exchange become a reality,” he said. “It didn’t occur yet, but we’re still positive. The VINP will still continue to work with territorial government officials to make this happen.”
“It is a very important project, particularly for the youth here on St. John,” Frederick continued. “It’s important for them to have a school that they can come to and have a truly educational experience, and move them out of the Cruz Bay area.”