Via the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway:
With the help of a grant from Rotary International’s District 5960, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, along with 12 other National Park System units in the Upper Midwest, have established a “sister park” partnership with several national parks and protected areas of the Osa Region of Costa Rica.
With the help of this grant, three Rotarians from the St. Croix Valley – Judy Freund (Past District Governor 2011/2012) of Hudson, Wisconsin, Craig Leiser (Past District Governor 2010/2011) of Stillwater, Minnesota, and Fred Treiber (Team Leader) of White Bear Lake, Minnesota — and Chris Stein, Riverway superintendent, spent nine days in Costa Rica. They met with government officials, community leaders, and others to identify potential sister park partnership projects that Rotary may want to help fund in the future. Any projects supported by Rotary must accomplish one of the organization’s six areas of focus: peace and conflict resolution, education, water resources, maternal and child health, disease prevention, and/or economic development.
On June 4, in Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose, Stein and Director Rafael Gutierrez of Costa Rica’s national parks signed an agreement between the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) and Costa Rica’s SINAC (system of parks and protected areas).
“The main reason why we have a signed agreement today is because Rotary supports this sister park effort,” said Stein. “We visited Costa Rica primarily to scope out Rotary-fundable community projects that will ultimately lead to better protection of the country’s park resources, such as rural tourism, environmental education, and watershed protection.”
Some of the reasons to have a “sister park” agreement include: 1) shared resources, such as the Neotropical migratory bird species that travel between the Americas, 2) habitat protection and restoration, 3) professional development of park staff both here and in Costa Rica, 4) public relations, 5) adult and youth education about park issues, and 6) partnerships that enhance relationships between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and park organizations.
While in Costa Rica, the Rotary/NPS team participated in 17+ meetings over nine days. The team discovered that Costa Rica is rich in opportunity for Rotary-type community projects. Over the next several weeks, team members will process the information and recommendations gathered at these meetings and then decide what community projects to potentially move forward.
This summer, staff from the U.S. national parks involved in the new “sister park” partnership also plan to discuss mutual efforts to help achieve the goals of the project. These parks are: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Effigy Mounds National Monument, Grand Portage National Monument, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Pipestone National Monument, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, and Voyageurs National Park
The Costa Rican national parks and protected areas that are signatories are: Corcovado National Park, Marino Ballena National Park, Piedras Blancas National Park, Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands, Golfito Wildlife Refuge, Isla del Cano Biological Reserve, and the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve.