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Partnership National Parks

Nationally significant large landscapes can be preserved and made accessible to the public through a variety of partnership park models. These collaborative approaches to resource management often encompass natural and cultural resources close to large population centers including places where people live and work.  The National Park Service’s partnership parks take a landscape approach by establishing a boundary based more on the definition of the resource than on the government’s ability to acquire the land in question. Partnership parks also harness the power of local land 
use authorities to preserve 
resources; incorporate other agencies’ parks 
and lands preserved by easements; and engage the local community and other interest groups.  Other related National Park Service and Federal  partnership models include National Heritage Areas, National Historic and Scenic Trails, and Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Designated part of the national park system in 1996, this national recreation area of 34 islands and peninsulas in the Boston Harbor is owned and managed by a mixture of federal, state, for profit and non-profit organizations. The mission of the park is to offer recreation and restful solitude that is integrated into the larger region. The islands preserve important archeological, cultural, and natural resources, including three national historic landmarks. The management structure is built on a collaborative agreement of various owners and managers known as the Boston Harbor Island Partners. There is also a Boston Harbor Islands Citizen’s Advisory Committee to comment on the development and implementation of the park’s comprehensive management plan.

Cape Cod National Seashore

Established in 1961, Cape Cod National Seashore is a 40-mile strip of Atlantic beaches, dunes, and wetlands, which includes parts of six cape communities and hundreds of owner-occupied buildings. The park boundary of 44,000 acres is a mix of federal, state, municipal and private landowners. The  Seashore’s enabling legislation contains a number of innovations to mesh the new park presence with the existing communities. Under what became known as the “Cape Cod formula,” condemnation of private improved property would not be permitted if the local governments adopted zoning ordinances that were consistent with the park’s purpose. This had the effect of preserving the living landscape of fishing villages and summer cottages. Another innovation in the Cape Cod legislation was the establishment of a park advisory commission representing the six units of local government, the county, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a representative of the Secretary of the Interior. This gave the local community an ongoing forum to address management concerns.

Lowell National Historical Park

The 1978 designation included both a park unit, Lowell National Historical Park now about 140 acres, and a larger 583-acre historic district. The park preserves historic and cultural resources from the 19th century American Industrial Revolution. It was created to be a catalyst in revitalizing the city’s physical, economic and cultural environment. Originally, a commission, which included representatives of local government, state government, and federal agencies had management responsibilities. The commission had authority to undertake direct development projects, offer grant and loan assistance, and review other development projects in the historic district. The legislation also set an annual funding limit for the commission based on the aggregate of state, local, and private dollars expended for related purposes in the prior year.

Pinelands National Reserve

The 1978 federal legislation for the Pinelands National Reserve included over a million acres in seven southern New Jersey counties an area of over 700,000 residents.  Land ownership is almost equally divided between public and private owners. The reserve is managed under the authority of the state Pineland Protection Act that also established a commission consisting of representatives of local government, agriculture, and conservation interests, as well as a designee of the Secretary of the Interior. The commission is responsible for implementing the comprehensive management plan for the region. This includes assessing the environmental, cultural, and recreational resources of the region and preparing a strategy that includes regulatory, educational, and economic tools. State and federal grant funding is available for planning, implementation and for selective land acquisition.  The Pinelands have also been classified as a United States Biosphere reserve.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area  

Established in 1978, the federally designated boundary for the Santa Monica Mountains National recreation Area consist of almost 200,000 acres of mountain peaks, valleys, and Pacific coast- line adjacent to the heavily urbanized Los Angeles Basin. The park’s Mediterranean environment provides ecosystem benefits to the region and specifically recognizes public health as a value. The area includes a mix of both public and private lands including national and state park land which is be planned and controlled in a way that would optimize preservation, not of a series of recreational sites and projects, but of the whole landscape.  As in any large and complex populated region, there are many stakeholder groups. The Santa Monica Mountains Advisory Commission was established as a forum for state, county, and local government partners.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

This park unit was created to preserve the natural and cultural resources in Louisiana’s Mississippi Delta with a strong emphasis on the people and traditional culture of the region. The park includes the 23,000-acre Barataria Marsh, the Chalmette National Historical Park, a visitor’s center in New Orleans and now three other cultural sites in communities in the delta region managed under cooperative agreements.  These sites are the Acadian Cultural Centers in Eunice,  in Lafayette, and Thibodaux. The Barataria Marsh Guidelines to preserve environmental values were to be enacted by local governments who could cede their enforcement authority to the secretary of the interior. If they failed to act, the land could be acquired to protect those values. In deference to local culture, the legislation permitted hunting, fishing, and trapping in the Barataria Marsh. An advisory commission was established, representing state and local government, representatives of commercial fishing interests, conservation groups, and a representative from the National Endowment for the Arts.