In 1997, a delegation of U.S. National Park Service (NPS) personnel visited Poland to renew efforts begun in 1988 to establish cooperative relationships with the Polish National Parks. On April 15, 1998, in Warsaw, Poland, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the National Park Service and the Board of Polish National Parks. At the same time, Superintendent Dale Engquist of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Dyrektor Jerzy Misiak of Kampinoski Park Narodowy (Kampinos National Park) also signed a Memorandum designating the Indiana Dunes and Kampinos "sister parks."
KAMPINOS AND INDIANA DUNES: Although not twins, the two parks share enough to be biological "sisters". The primary plant communities and soils of each are similar. Although they are of different types and origins, both are dominated by upland dunes and those are intermixed with marshes and other wetlands. Both are botanically rich in species and diversity. Because of its greater size, Kampinos supports more and larger mammal species but the parks are comparable in numbers and diversity of bird and other vertebrate species.
Because of their locations in and near the major urban centers of Warsaw and Chicago, the outstanding natural resources of both parks face many common threats including air and water pollution, changes in ground and surface water hydrology, ecosystem fragmentation caused by past land uses and growing urban encroachment, and the adverse impacts of excessive visitation and illegal human activities. The employees of both parks share the common ideals of stewardship and preservation of the resources given to their care. Their highest priority goals are to preserve and increase natural biodiversity; to restore altered ecosystems, habitats, and forests; to create corridors and connections between their parks' fragmented and isolated ecological islands; and to implement the research, inventory, and monitoring programs necessary to achieve success in these preservation and restoration efforts.
The parks wish to increase their already substantial efforts toward the environmental education of school children and the general public so that their country's people can become committed partners in conservation. The Indiana Dunes Environmental Learning Center has developed a residential program at the former site of Camp Good Fellow. Kampinos is hoping to develop an environmental education camp in the future.
The "sister parks" will seek to enrich the experience and training of the personnel of both parks through projects of international cooperation including the exchange of technical and professional knowledge and personnel, information, data, technology, training, and experience. Examples of potential areas of cooperation include:
- Scientific research and data collection.
- Sharing resource management methods and techniques.
- Electronic communication and technical information exchanges, including software programs for science and resource management applications.
- Environmental education techniques, programs, and facilities, including plans and designs for youth education camps and curriculum.