U.S., Russia Move Closer To Sharing Their "Beringian Heritage"

The United States and Russia are committed to tying together the natural and cultural history of the "Beringian" zone, a move that would link the proposed Beringia National Park in Russia with the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (pictured) and Cape Krusenstern National Monument in Alaska. NPS photo.

Natural history and cultural heritages can't be constrained by political boundaries, which is one reason why it's good to see the United States and Russia working to forge ties through a “Shared Beringian Heritage Program."

Through this program the proposed Beringia National Park in Chukotka, Russia, would be linked with the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument in Alaska.

Though the goals of this program have been recognized for two decades, under an agreement U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov signed earlier this month the two countries will work to finalize an agreement on the proposed Transboundary Area of Beringia, a specially protected natural territory, by year's end.

The intent of tying these areas together, according to a release from the U.S. State Department, is to "promote conservation of flora, fauna and the natural ecosystem; preservation of kinship ties, cultural traditions, subsistence lifestyle and language of the indigenous peoples of the region; and collaboration on conservation, management scientific research, and effective monitoring of the environment."

"With this statement, we are underscoring our intent to link the United States national parks in Alaska with the soon-to-be designated Beringia National Park," Secretary of State Clinton said during the signing ceremony on September 8 during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vladivostok, Russia.

"Our goal is to finalize this arrangement in the coming months so park managers and researchers from both countries will be able to increase their efforts to conserve this unique ecosystem as well as the cultural traditions and languages of the indigenous people on both sides of the strait," she added.

The Joint Statement on Pursuing a Transboundary Area of Shared Beringian Heritage represents the first time the United States and Russia have stated their intention to formally link National Parks in Alaska - the Bering Land Bridge Natural Preserve and the Cape Krusenstern National Monument - with the soon-to-be-designated Beringia National Park in Chukhotka, Russia.

The linkage will:

Facilitate conservation of flora, fauna, and the natural ecosystem.

Preserve kinship ties, traditional lifestyle, and languages of the indigenous peoples of the region.

Enhance collaboration on conservation, management, scientific research, and effective monitoring of the environment.

Formalize the symbolic linkage of our two continents, governments, and people.