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Representatives of Yosemite National Park and Chile's National Forest Corporation (CONAF) and Torres del Paine National Park signed on Thursday, May 10, a Sister Park agreement, promoting increased cooperation in the management of protected natural resources.
Chile's Foreign Affairs Ministry hosted the ceremony on Thursday, May 10, at 3:30 p.m. On behalf of the U.S. National Park Service, Yosemite Park Superintendent Michael Tollefson signed the accord. CONAF Executive Director Catalina Bau and CONAF's Magallanes Regional Director Juan José Romero signed for Chile. Chilean Minister of Agriculture Alvaro Rojas and U.S. Ambassador to Chile Craig Kelly witnessed to the accord.
The Yosemite and Torres del Paine partnership is the outcome of extensive collaboration between the U.S. National Park Service and CONAF. This partnership forms part of the framework of the U.S.-Chile Environmental Cooperation Agreement (June 2003).
Both National Parks have worked together promoting conservation, preservation of resources, park administration, and the management of cultural patrimony. The Sister Park agreement seeks to promote further cooperation, including information exchanges, personnel training, scientific research, visitor flow management, and education, among other issues.
The Torres del Paine and Yosemite National Parks are examples of scenic natural environments that United States and Chile wish to preserve. Although the two parks differ, they share common characteristics that bond them as partners. Refuges for unique animal and plant species, both parks have spectacular rock formations, extensive walking and climbing paths, and growing tourism as popular recreational sites. The two parks also face similar challenges and management concerns, such as limited resources, the pressures for development, endangered species, erosion of their pathways, and the impact of changing climate patterns.
The U.S. National Park Service has more than 30 Sister Park agreements between parks in the United States and counterparts worldwide. These partnerships have increased the exchange of information on successful practices and experiences. California's Yosemite Park has a similar agreement with the Huangshan National Park in China.