For many historic sites and heritage regions, a public-private partnership can offer a lifeline with much-needed funding, support, and awareness. At this summer’s IUCN World Congress, authors Pamela Lanier and Jessica Hughes joined with ecotourism colleague Jean-Philippe Le Moigne in a presentation of three case studies highlighting successful public-private partnerships with a goal to provide a template for others to follow.
Valley of the Moon
Beginning in our own backyard, Jessica Hughes discussed Jack London State Historic Park, also known as Jack London Home and Ranch, a well-loved destination in Glen Ellen California. Declared a California Historical Landmark in 1960 and a National Historic Landmark in 1962, the Park has a long established role as a natural and cultural resource in the region. Yet in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008, and during the budget crisis of 2021, it was one of 70 state parks in the California system slated for closure.
Two other Sonoma parks were on the same list: Annadel State Park and Sugarloaf Ridge. All three continue to operate today, an achievement made possible by the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association (VotM) and its advocacy for self-sustaining models of funding.
The Valley of the Moon Natural History Association had been established nearly a half-century ago to support the interpretive needs of the three parks. In this role, it is one of more than 80 cooperating associations authorized pursuant to Public Resource Code 513. Typically, such associations are related to, but independent of the state parks they serve.
It was the passage of Assembly Bill 42, introduced by Representative Jared Huffman in 2010, that allowed nonprofit groups like VotM to assume a central role park operations and to make it possible for state parks such as Jack London to remain in operation without state or federal funding. The State Park system remains an active partner, providing rangers and retaining responsibility for some functions of the parks' infrastructure.
With AB42 in place, VotM then created Jack London Park Partners (JLPP) to oversee management of the park. JLPP receives no funds from State Parks to subsidize the management and operation of the park depends entirely on private revenue and donations.
The public-private partnership model developed by Valley of the Moon Natural History Association to save Sonoma’s parks has been instrumental in saving 14 parks in all throughout the state.
Rapa Nui National Park
In his presentation, Jean-Philippe Le Moigne drew attention to the relationship between indigenous peoples and protected areas. A relationship not historically beneficial, Le Moigne notes, as early conservation efforts of “natural areas” often came about through the displacement and disenfranchisement of the indigenous populations who lived there.
Le Moigne believes a new paradigm is emerging that recognizes indigenous populations within a protected areas must be included as participants in the preservation process and given agency in the management or co-management of its future. “Every single government in the world must advance in this way,” Le Moigne affirms.
Two indigenous communities that have successfully formed public-private partnerships with their governments to co-manage the public use of their homelands are the Likan Antai in Chile and the Machu Picchu in Peru. Yet, as Le Moigne notes, the process can be a long and difficult one and that is something that needs to change.
In 2016 and after a long negotiation process between the Rapa Nui People and the Government of Chile, the public use (tourism) of the Rapa Nui National Park located in Te pito o te henua or better known as Easter Island, passed into the hands of the Ma'u Henua Community, an indigenous legal organization. This action returns full control and management of an UNESCO world heritage site, one that has weathered centuries of colonialism and global tourism, to its indigenous people.
As Le Moigne states, this is a huge achievement that puts in practice the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (2007), and ILO Convention 169 (1989). Regardless of the ups and downs the future may hold, the Rapa Nui now have free determination regarding tourism development in their land.
Walking Amanda’s Trail
Sometimes a natural area of great beauty holds a brutal story of our past.
In her segment, Pamela Lanier illustrated how the generous gift of private land in 1988 made it possible for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to reckon with the US Military’s compulsory removal of native peoples along the Oregon Coast in the century before and to memorialize one of its many victims.
In 1864 Amanda De-Cuys, a member of the Coos people, was separated from her family during a brutal, enforced trek from her home up the coast to the Alsea Sub-agency reservation. The journey she walked is marked today by Amanda’s Trail, located from the town of Yachats along coastal cliffs to the summit of Cape Perpetua and is part of the Siuslaw National Forest (SNF).
As Lanier explains, earlier efforts by Forest management to connect two longer trails in the state trail route faced the all-too common challenges of funding and safety issues. In 1988, Joanne and Norman Kittel, a Minnesota couple, purchased 27+ acres bordering the North Cape with the intention to form a public-private partnership that would benefit the area.
The Kittels made their purchase with three goals in mind: to build the Oregon Trail through their property, learn local indigenous history and create a conservation easement. Over the next few years, the Kittles and the governing agencies involved worked together through various issues concerning access and safety. One proposed route of the trail was shelved and the Kittles were instrumental in suggesting a less expensive alternate.
In April 1998, the Amanda Bridge, built by public and private volunteerism was dedicated to a crowd of 150. In the following years, another private donor gifted the trail with a statue created by local artist Sy Meadow and dedicated it to Amanda’s memory.
When the trail was completed in 2009, a second dedication was made – this time with 30 tribal members in attendance. The town of Yachats now hosts an annual Peace Hike on New Years Day, which honors Amanda’s journey. This year, due COVID-19 restrictions on large group gatherings, the hike was virtual with Miluk Coos Tribal member Patricia Whereat Phillips, linguist, Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) narrating Amanda’s story.
“For those who travel the Amanda Trail, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in a meditative journey,” Lanier concludes. “To learn some of the history of the region and its original people. And a chance to sit by the statue of Amanda and to take a look at the uncomfortable truths of a history 150 years old that continues to play out in the lives of many, each day, today.”
The Amanda Trail is jointly maintained by the Siuslaw National Forest, City of Yachats, Oregon State Parks, Oregon Department of Transportation, and a private landowner.