Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact:Isabel Benemelis
For Immediate Release: November 12, 2003


Secretary Norton and Mexico's Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Alberto Cardenas-Jimenez, Agree to Extend Wildfire Protection Agreement for Additional Ten Years


WASHINGTON-Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton and her recently appointed Mexican counterpart, Alberto Cardenas-Jimenez, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), today signed an agreement to extend cooperation on wildfire protection for the next ten years.

This agreement has enabled fire fighters and their equipment to cross the border and help fight wildfires that threaten both countries. "The recent experience in Southern California reinforces the need to work together to manage fires," said Norton. This agreement first established in 1999, was renewed during the U.S.-Mexico Bi-national Commission (BNC) meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of State. The agreement continues the designation of a zone of mutual assistance of up to 10 miles on each side of the border, and authorizes cooperation on other fire management activities outside the zone. "I am pleased this signing will result in further exchanges of resources and continued training," said Cardenas, "as well as the protection and preservation of species in critical habitats along the border."

This Wildfire Protection agreement was just one of the topics of discussion of the Natural Resources Working Group that includes Interior, SEMARNAT, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. For several decades the U.S. and Mexico have worked together to address natural resource issues of common concern. Many of the activities of the Natural Resources Working Group are focused on the U.S.-Mexico border, where rapid industrialization and population growth have exacerbated pressures on natural resources.

The U.S. and Mexico continue to strengthen their cooperation through the continuing co-management of a successful training and small grants program called Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico. Since its inception in 1994, the program has benefited over 60 species of international concern, 30 Mexican reserves, and provided training for over 6,000 people.

As a direct result of an agreement signed at the last BNC meeting held in Mexico City last November, The National Park Service (NPS), and the National Commission on Natural and Protected areas (CONANP), have engaged in several joint training courses on inventory and monitoring techniques and invasive species management. Today, Secretaries Norton and Cardenas asked the NPS and CONANP to finalize a proposal for a new sister park designation for 2004.


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