As park rangers at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore near Chicago go about their work, they often think about their colleagues in other parks, including those at Kampinos National Park near Warsaw, Poland. The two have a sister park relationship that goes back about a dozen years and is grounded in common characteristics: proximity to major urban areas, similar landscapes, and concerns with plants and animals. And a lot of Polish visitors: the largest concentration of Poles outside Warsaw lives in Chicago. The sharing of expertise goes both ways: Dunes rangers guided their Polish counterparts in an upgrade to visitor center exhibits and trailside information signs, and helped to create a sister school relationship for schools near each park; Kampinos rangers impressed their U.S. counterparts with the way they care for and manage bison and other wildlife. “This relationship is important to the park,” said Indiana Dunes superintendent Costa Dillon. “We are proud to share America’s national park idea with park professionals in other countries and to bring back what we learn from their best practices and apply it to our own management.” The relationship between Indiana Dunes and Kampinos National Park is one of nearly three dozen between U.S. national parks and parks in 15 foreign countries.
Today, the National Park Service is sharing nearly 100 years of park management experience with nations around the globe – making America’s Best Idea even better.