I’m proud and pleased to announce that I am one of four Americans and seven Mongols who have recently been appointed by the Dornogobi Aimag Governor (an aimag is the equivalent of a state or province) to the Ikh Nart Natural Resource Area Working Group!
Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve is becoming a model for how a reserve or park can be managed in Mongolia, which has set aside one of the largest percentages of its land area of any country, 13%, as protected in some way.
The other Americans are Dr. Richard Reading, the Vice President for Conservation at the Denver Zoo, who in charge of the research camp that was established at Ikh Nart in 1994; retired Anza-Borrego California State Park Superintendent Mark Jorgensen, (Anza-Borrego is officially a sister park to Ikh Nart and its supporters have been very generous in their support of Ikh Nart, donating both money and equipment like spotting scopes and binoculars) who will continue to nurture the sister park relationship; and retired state park employee Lynn Rhodes, who has been offering her expertise on law enforcement policies and training.
I have been tasked with continuing to support Ikh Nart Is Our Future, the women’s craft collective and also to publicize Ikh Nart and the collective outside of Mongolia.
The Mongols in the Group include the scientist in charge of argali research for the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Amgalanbaatar (Amgaa), who has become a good personal friend; the head of the aimag’s environmental agency; two soum (county) governors; the reserve ranger; and a representative of the local herders. So I will also have an opportunity to see how another country’s government operates at a local level.
I feel very privileged to be included in this on-going effort to conserve a very special place and to work with the Mongols in doing so.
UPDATE AS OF MARCH, 2012: As of a few months ago, the Working Group decided to create an advisory council on which the four westerners would serve. I am now a member of that council. My direct work with the collective, Ikh Nart Is Our Future, has not changed.