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Creation of a "Transboundary Area of Shared Beringian Heritage"

Beringia satellite image A satellite image of the Beringia area (NOAA photo).

August 28, 2012

The National Park Service is currently soliciting feedback, answering questions, and gathering support from the people of Beringia. It is anticipated that the United States and Russia will soon formalize an agreement concerning the establishment of a transboundary protected area intended to reinforce peaceful and long-standing ties in the region of the Bering Strait. The recognition of the shared natural and cultural resources on both sides of the Bering Strait has become a major priority at the highest levels of government.  However, the arrangement cannot be successful without the input, support and participation of local residents in both Alaska and Chukotka, Russia.  There are several important questions and issues concerning the “Transboundary Area of Shared Beringian Heritage” that are of great importance to the residents of the region. The National Park Service can address the most frequent questions here and provide contact information should you have further inquiries. View a map of the proposed area.

  • Why is this transboundary protected area important to me?  How will it directly affect me? It may not directly affect you, but you should be aware of the opportunities that this designation will provide, and the activities it will support.  Of special importance to rural residents, the agreement is intended to foster a climate of mutual understanding and mutual concern for trans-Beringian environmental protection, support subsistence opportunities in both countries, and help maintain established family ties and ancient cultural traditions.  The designation will also create a dramatic example of cooperation through the facilitation of cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges between Alaska and Chukotka.  In addition, the spotlight on the area will provide economic opportunities through increased visitation, eco-tourism, and foreign travelers. 
  • Who is entering in to this agreement?  The federal governments of the United States and Russia will sign the agreement.  Since federal park lands in both regions will comprise the new transboundary area, the appropriate entities will be responsible for the implementation of the agreement. The primary contacts in the United States will be the National Park Service’s Shared Beringian Heritage Program; and in Russia the Ministry of Natural Resources will be responsible.
  • What will the agreement look like?  The agreement would formally recognize the mutual interests of both countries in the ongoing conservation, protection, and management of lands in the Beringia region.  The purpose is to strengthen the relationship and maintain the ties between indigenous people, scientists, educators, hunters, elders and youth in the region through a formal understanding. Protected lands in either country will be subject only to the laws of that country and will not be subject to any international management or regulation. 
  • Where and when is this happening?  What lands are involved and when is this to be formalized?  The agreement could be signed as early as September because the issue is a priority at the highest levels. The United States plans to contribute two existing parks (Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument) totaling approximately 3.2 million acres. No new lands on the US side will be designated or included in the agreement.  The Russians will contribute land in Chukotka totaling about 4 million acres.

 

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Last Updated: February 7, 2013