The upcoming 50th anniversary of the Virgin Islands National Park will be Interim Superintendent Walter Chavez’s primary focus, as he oversees the local national park for the next 120 days.
Since Art Frederick left his post as head of the VINP last month to take over as the National Park Service’s South East Regional Deputy Director, Chavez has been tapped to replace him while a permanent replacement is hired.
“My biggest goal and task is to make sure we put the 50th anniv-ersary events together,” Chavez said. “On December 1, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the V.I. National Park. We have a full day of events planned.”
New Interpretive Exhibit
Dignitaries, including the NPS’s South East Regional Director and Regional Deputy Director Frederick will attend the festivities. VINP officials will also dedicate a new interpretive exhibit.
“We are constructing new interpretive panels in the field adjacent to the ball field near the VINP’s visitor’s center,” Chavez said. “We are very excited about the plans.”
Although Chavez only had to travel from his previous post in San Juan, he comes with 31 years of experience in parks from New Mexico to Florida.
“I actually started my career with the Bureau of Land Management,” Chavez said. “I was on break during the winter months and during that time I found work with the National Park Service.”
Chavez’s love of the outdoors has been a life-long passion.
Love of Outdoors
“My interest has always been to work in the outdoors,” Chavez said. “I wanted to work in places that I visited as a kid — where I went fishing and hiking.”
Growing up in New Mexico, Chavez was introduced to the outdoors at an early age. Since 1975, he has turned his love of nature into a successful career.
“I started in New Mexico in the regional office in 1975,” Chavez said. “I worked mostly in administration in parks from New Orleans to Arkansas. From there I went to Atlanta and from Atlanta, I went to the Everglades.”
“From the Everglades, in 2002, I was transferred to the San Juan National Historic Site,” the VINP Interim Superintendent continued.
Chavez has been Superinten-dent of the San Juan National Historic Site for the past four years, and has visited St. John before.
Familiar with VINP
“I’ve been here several times before,” he said. “The Caribbean superintendents meet on a regular basis to share ideas and work on mutual projects. I’m familiar with the park already, which has made my transition easier.”
Chavez is already enjoying his stint in Love City, which will last until the third week in January.
“I’m living out near Caneel Bay and it’s incredible,” the VINP Interim Superintendent said. “The beach is right outside my doorstep — it’s beautiful. This is a great island.”
Despite his pleasure with his current post, Chavez did admit to missing his home in Puerto Rico.
“My house was part of one of the old forts,” he said. “Of course, one of the things I loved was the security. I was able to walk around Old San Juan and took advantage of all the city had to offer.”
The VINP staff has made Chavez’s life and work easier.
“The staff has been absolutely welcoming,” he said. “Everyone has been very helpful and has made me feel part of the team.”
The VINP Interim Superinten-dent looks forward to meeting St. John residents.
“I’m here and I’m available,” Chavez said. “As the previous superintendent did, I’ll work with the community on any issue.”
Chavez had one more reminder to the St. John community.
“People should watch out for our 50th anniversary happenings — it’s going to be a great time,” he said.