A first for California state parks: A sister in Mongolia

Which California state park has a sister thousands of miles away in Asia?

Try California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

The sister? The Ikh Nartiin Chuluu (Ikh Nart) Nature Reserve in Dalanjargal Soum of Mongolia. (That’s easy for you to say.)

The state parks commission  approved a resolution last May recognizing the sisterhood, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent as fomal message to Mongolia also in recognition of the Sister Park relationship.

The Ikh Nart Nature Reserve has many similarities to Anza Borrego Desert State Park relating to biodiversity, environmental protection, species, natural and cultural resources, park management strategies and challenges, as well as strong links to education with the local schools and community.

Lynn Rhodes, law enforcement division chief at State Parks, reported that a small delegation of State Park managers — including Anza Borrego Desert Park Superintendent Mark Jorgensen, Colorado Desert District Superintendent Mike Wells and Rhodes – went with Anza Borrego Foundation & Institute President Ray Mouton and Board Members Chuck Bennett and Diana Lindsey) to Mongolia during September of 2008. There, they delivered the Sister Park Resolution, the Communication from Schwarzenegger and much-needed, donated equipment.

The delegation was met in the Darlanjargalan Soum by Governor D. Bold of the Mongolian Daornogobi Province, the Superintendent of Schools, Minister of Resources and other community leaders. Richard Reeding, Ph.D., of the Denver Zoo Foundation was also present. The foundation provides management support for the Reserve.

Governor Bold traveled to the Nature Reserve with the State Parks delegation where he hosted a dinner in honor of the visit. Governor Bold drove his jeep into the nearby area to purchase a goat from a local herdsman for the dinner.

“The local herdsman was honored to be asked to provide the goat. He presented it as a gift in honor of the recognition given by California to the Sister Parks,” Rhodes reported.

The group spent several days in the Reserve studying, working with researchers, hiking, and meeting with managers, park rangers and research investigators. Additionally, the delegation brought donated equipment, including binoculars, spotting scopes, computers and other items to help the researchers and park rangers with their jobs.

Enforcement and protection in and of the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve are two of their highest management priorities. State Parks has committed to provide expertise in these and other areas.

Rhodes’ account of the Mongolian trip appeared in the State Parks’ December 2008 newsletter, “News and Views.”

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