NPS 100th Anniversary/Sister Park Signing Ceremony
Toubkal National Park
May 11, 2016
High Commissioner, distinguished Wali of Marrakech, honorable President, honorable Governor, honored guests, and environmental advocates, good morning!
It is a pleasure to be here with you today to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the United States National Park Service and launch the new partnership between our two national parks at the foot of Morocco’s beautiful Mt. Toubkal.
The Sister Park Arrangement between Great Basin National Park and Toubkal National Park as well as the ongoing cooperation between the U.S. Department of Interior and the High Commission reflect the shared American and Moroccan commitment to environmental conservation and preservation.
Since 1916, the U.S. National Park Service has played a critical role in the sustainable management of America’s rich natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of generations of Americans.
I want to thank the National Park Service representatives we have here today for their daily contributions to this mission and congratulate the National Park Service on its 100 years of success.
Public support for America’s national parks is a tradition as old as the parks themselves, and the presence of everyone here today reaffirms that Morocco’s citizens are similarly dedicated to the preservation of this great nation’s national treasures.
National Parks play a key role in promoting tourism by attracting travelers who like to explore a country’s natural resources.
From my travels, it has become abundantly clear to me that Morocco’s national parks, reserves, and ecological sites have significant tourism appeal, just as the U.S. parks do for domestic and international tourists alike.
Lake Ifni’s picturesque landscape and Toubkal’s snowy peak offer endless opportunities to expand eco-tourism sustainably in this region. And by partnering with the High Commission, we are working together to ensure Toubkal National Park’s potential as a tourism attraction is fully realized and above all, protected for generations to come.
The successful partnership between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the High Commission has already helped train over 150 staff and officials in the development of effective tourism management plans, community engagement, signage, and tourism zoning development.
It has supported the development, installation, and unveiling of new, pilot signage at Toubkal National Park’s Oukeimden entrance.
The new Sister Park Arrangement that the High Commissioner and I will sign today will help both the Great Basin and Toubkal National Parks better protect their natural resources while also welcoming an increasing number of visitors.
Through staff and information exchanges, the two parks, which face similar environmental challenges, will have an opportunity to share best practices with respect to protecting wildlife, preserving cultural heritage, and conserving the environment.
Together, through this arrangement, we are not only strengthening the relationship between Morocco and the United States, we are also expressing our shared commitment to the protection of the natural resources that we all hold dear.
As it prepares to host COP22, Morocco’s commitment to the environment and fighting climate change could not be clearer.
We are pleased to serve as strong partners in these efforts at the international, national, and right here at the local level.
Thank you and Shukran.