U.S. Department of the Interior officials signed a memorandum of understanding with Irish authorities today pairing Glacier National Park in Montana and Killarney National Park in County Kerry, Ireland, as “sister parks.” The arrangement furthers international cooperation between the two countries and allows the participating parks to collaborate and exchange ideas about how to manage these cherished, protected places to the benefit of both countries, according to officials.

“Last year, thanks to Ireland Senator Mark Daly and representatives of our government, a plaque commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising was put on display at the Washington Monument,” said Todd Willens, chief of staff, Department of the Interior. “Today, in a similar spirit, we honor the strong ties between the United States and the Republic of Ireland, and hope that this new sister park arrangement will further strengthen the bonds of friendship between our two countries.”

“Since the unveiling of a replica of the 1916 proclamation at the Washington Monument I was delighted to work again with Todd Willens, chief of staff at the U.S. Department of the Interior and many others on both sides of the Atlantic to make this important Sister Parks initiative a reality,” said Chair of the Senate of Ireland Senator Mark Daly. “This agreement between Ireland and the United States affirms once again the strong links and enduring friendship between our two republics.”

“The collaborative nature of this partnership provides an excellent way for us to work together and learn from each other. We look forward to the opportunity and are excited about the possibilities,” said Margaret Everson, counselor to the Secretary Exercising the Authority of the Director, National Park Service, and signatory on behalf of Glacier National Park.

“I am delighted that my Department – through the National Parks and Wildlife Service – is entering into a Sister Park arrangement with the U.S. National Park Service by developing best practices and establishing closer links between Killarney National Park and Glacier National Park, Montana,” said Darragh O’Brien, minister for housing, Local Government and Heritage, and signatory on behalf of Killarney National Park. “In doing so we will enrich the experience and capacity of the personnel of both Parks through exchanges of staff and best practices.”

A view of Glacier National Park, which is now a sister park to Ireland’s Killarney National Park.

“From today, both Killarney National Park and Glacier National Park will aim to capitalize on the significant networking knowledge and sharing opportunities this agreement supports,” said Minister of State for Heritage at the Department Malcolm Noonan. “Given the natural and cultural resources protected and presented by both organizations, as well as our respective mandates, it is my hope that we use our arrangement as a joint and thus stronger voice to highlight the challenges not only in these 2 Parks but across our nations.”

“Glacier National Park has a proud history of working with partners beyond our borders to exchange best practices in recreation, preservation and resource management,” said Jeff Mow, Glacier National Park superintendent. “We look forward to building on that history by learning from and collaborating with our friends at Killarney National Park.”

The sister park arrangement allows the participants to benefit by sharing experiences and approaches to collaboration, including local efforts to work with gateway communities, regional and local economies, friends groups, and partner organizations. This may be accomplished primarily through the exchange of managerial experience and best practices, technical and professional knowledge, information, data, technology, training, and experience.

One of America’s most iconic national parks, Glacier faces a range of challenges, including managing a growing number of visitors. Killarney National Park is Ireland’s flagship national park located along the Ring of Kerry circuit route, one of the country’s main tourist destinations, resulting in high visitor numbers to the park. Additional shared challenges include controlling exotic and invasive species, working with local communities, and ecological monitoring.

Activities under this arrangement commence upon signature and may continue for five years. The arrangement may be extended or modified by the written decision of the participants. Park managers on both sides will lead the partnership communicating on a regular basis and when appropriate through exchange visits.

The new sister park relationship joins more than three dozen similar relationships between U.S. national parks and national parks and protected areas in other countries.