Formal Recognition for Beringia?July 2010
Natural resources rarely notice or respect political boundaries and tend to freely migrate across these borders. While conservation of habitat at the local level is important, there is growing recognition of the need to build strategies nationally and internationally to address large scale conservation challenges, such as the effects of climate change. Thus, countries sometimes agree to designate areas across their political borders to conserve natural and cultural resources.
In the mid-1990s, the National Park Service (NPS) initiated an effort to establish a U.S. and Russian protected area in the Bering Strait region to promote conservation as well as re-establish connections between people and communities, and cultural and subsistence practices interrupted by the Cold War. NPS worked with local residents to establish a Beringia International Park and offered to include the lands of the existing parks in Western Alaska as part of this new protected area, including: Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Noatak National Preserve, and Kobuk Valley National Park. That effort failed due to lack of local support and lack of progress in creating the equivalent of a national park in Russia.
Recently, the two governments have renewed their interest in exploring ideas for some form of formal recognition of the unique cultural and natural resources of Bering Strait region. Since the 1990s, the types of transboundary-protected areas have been expanded and include National Heritage Areas, Sister-Parks, and other non-binding agreements. Please download the file below to learn more about how these areas are set up and how local involvement plays a role in their management.
The National Park Service is exploring the idea of some formal recognition for Beringia and is interested in hearing what local people would be willing to support, which existing federal lands would be appropriate to include, and what their concerns and interests are in establishing an international protected area.
National Park Service staff are in the process of arranging visits with community leaders and local people to discuss this idea. If you would like us to visit your community or want to discuss the idea with Beringia program staff, please contact us. You can also get in touch with Jeanette Pomrenke, Superintendent of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve in Nome at 907-443-2522, or the superintendent of the Western Alaska Parklands.