With 10 Million Acres in Patagonia, a National Park System Is Born

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With 10 Million Acres in Patagonia, a National Park System Is Born


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“It is a wonderful coincidence to be here this day,” said John Rosenblum, the retired dean of the University of Virginia’s business school, who was visiting the park with his son the day of the announcement.

Mr. Tompkins traveled through Patagonia in 1961, when he was 18, an adventure seeker and rock climber. He bought his first lands there 30 years later — the 42,000-acre Reñihué farm in Los Lagos region, which he converted to organic agriculture.

The couple married in 1993, after Ms. McDivitt retired from the outdoor apparel company Patagonia, where she had risen to chief executive. They began “a very nomadic life looking at conservation projects in Chile and Argentina,” she said.

In partnership with the philanthropist Peter Buckley, the Tompkins purchased 208,000 more acres near the Corcovado volcano, south of Reñihué. They also bought more land further south, and large tracts in northeastern Argentina, which they are currently donating, in four stages, to the Argentine government.

Over the years, they continued buying property, largely from absent landowners, developing the more than 700,000-acre Pumalín Park, made mostly of temperate rain forests including the millenary alerce tree, a relative of the California redwood.

The valleys were used for ecological farming, and luxury cabins, camping sites, hiking trails and other infrastructure were built to open the park to the public.

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