North of the Straits of Magellan, the great Patagonian steppe of Argentina calves into the southern Atlantic, creating a wild and windswept coastline. Hundreds of guanaco forage on the coastal bluffs that overlook rookeries of Magellanic penguins numbering in the tens of thousands. The tides rise and fall over 35 feet, exposing tidepools that extend so far from the bluffs you have to take care when beachcombing that you don't wander so far out you can't outrun the incoming water. Along this coastline there are 26 miles forming the eastern edge of Estancia Monte Leon, a 155,000-acre former sheep ranch that is now permanently protected. On November 1, 2002, Kristine Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia, Inc., who represents the Patagonia Land Trust (PLT), participated in the formal donation of Estancia Monte Leon to Argentine National Parks, creating the first coastal national park in the country. Named Monte Leon after a prominent sphinx-like headland, this section of coastline has become famous for its teeming sea lion and penguin rookeries and flourishing bird life.
The land, one of the earliest sheep ranches in Patagonia, was purchased by Fundacion Vida Silvestre of Argentina (the Argentine affiliate of the World Wildlife Fund) through a donation made by the PLT in May 2001. Since then, the sheep have been removed and the grasslands are visibly beginning to recover. Through an arrangement with PLT, a Monte Leon sheep rancher who owned the estancia for generations, has established a bed-and-breakfast at the original ranch house for visitors to the new park.
This donation of private land to Argentine National Parks is the largest one of its kind to date. The master plan for the park was rigorously developed by a consortium including PLT, representatives from the Province of Santa Cruz, Argentine National Parks and Fundacion Vida Silvestre. Both PLT and Patagonia, Inc., as well as all of the participants in this effort, hope to see the creation of this new park as a model for private and public conservation initiatives worldwide.
PLT was formed in the spring of 2000 by Kristine Tompkins and her longtime friends and business associates, Yvon Chouinard and Rick Ridgeway. Patagonia, Inc., with a 30-year history of preservation and protection of the natural environment, is a founding donor and major supporter of the PLT. The mission and vision of PLT is to work with local private and governmental entities on conservation projects in the Patagonia region. There are new projects on the horizon, and we'll keep you informed as these efforts unfold and also let you know how you can participate. Your direct contributions to Patagonia Land Trust lead to the completion of world-class conservation projects such as the newly created Monte Leon National Park. We at Patagonia, Inc, are proud of what you, our customers, are doing to support this effort to safeguard the wildness of the land that is our namesake.
We hope you will visit Monte Leon National Park and the other PLT projects in Patagonia and see firsthand the extraordinary wildness that is Patagonia.