Greater Big Bend Coalition Renews Effort to Establish International Park

The Greater Big Bend Coalition (GBBC) is petitioning Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23), Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, and President Obama to establish an international park on the Rio Grande.

This proposed park boundaries include Big Bend National Park and protected wildlife areas in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila.

A new website at greaterbigbend.org contains a link to the change.org petition drafted by the GBBC and additional information on the international park project.  Most visitors to Big Bend National Park—and park enthusiasts nationwide—have no idea that an international park on the Rio Grande was first proposed by Congress in February 1935.

On November 24, 1935, environmental officials from Mexico and the United States met in El Paso and signed the first binational agreement to create an international park.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to President of Mexico Manuel Avila Camacho in 1944 and expressed his opinion that the Big Bend National Park (established in 1944) would remain incomplete until “both sides of the Rio Grande form one great international park.”  In 1946, President Harry S. Truman wrote to President Camacho on “behalf of the late President Roosevelt” to continue the international park campaign.

International parks are not unknown to the National Park Service and North America.  The US and Canada established the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in 1932, combining Glacier National Park (Montana) and the Waterton Park (Alberta).  While both nations manage their respective parks separately, the guiding principle is that shared ecosystems—divided only by arbitrary political boundaries—should be conserved as a single, unified preserve.

The Coalition agreed to the following proposal for the size and scope of the park at a meeting on September 3, 2016.

The Greater Big Bend Coalition calls upon the US and Mexico governments to designate lands currently protected by the National Park Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Comisíon Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas as one giant US Mexico International Park.  Both countries would retain their national sovereignty over all lands within the international park area and each land management agency would continue to manage lands as authorized by each government.

Full Story at El Paso Herald-Post

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