I’m Lori Faeth. I’m the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs here at the Department of the Interior. I have the great honor of working with our Office of International Affairs and a whole host of other folks across the department. I’m sure you’re all well aware, as part of the Office of International Affairs, we have the International Technical Assistance Program headed by Barbara Pitkin, who is here in the office. This is just a really exciting kickoff to 20 years of the department providing really critical technical assistance all over the globe I’m really honored to be here and be a part of the event today. I just want to welcome you all. Today we’re going to have a presentation on our work in the country of Georgia, around their protected area system, hand in hand with the Department of Interior through our Technical Assistance Program We’ve been working in Georgia for a long time, 15 years since 1999, which is just really great. You’re going to get a terrific overview of what we’ve been able to accomplish and why it’s so important. We went into Georgia to work around the Georgia Parks System and we have played a really big role in making it an engine for Cultural and Natural Conservation and Sustainable Economic Growth for the people of Georgia Today’s Presentation, as I said, marks a yearlong series of presentations. Hopefully, you’ll get a lot out of the presentation today and can help us spread the word to folks for the future presentation as part of our celebration of our 20 Year Anniversary of the ITAP Program I want to give a special thanks to Diana, who I saw, but no Diana. They were in the Museum Series for welcoming ITAP into this really important program Again, ITAP was launched 20 years ago this month. It was a gateway for technical experts from across the entire department to apply their expertise overseas. We’re supported through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department. ITAP deploys hundreds of DOI experts per year on short term overseas assignments. Through ITAP, we’ve forged countless partnerships, conducted thousands of training workshops overseas and hosted hundreds of U.S. training experiences What I have witnessed in my tenure in the department is the power inherent in sharing ideas, experiences and best practices. The benefits have been decidedly two way, so folks go out, provide their expertise. We’ve had just a huge impact on everything from parks infrastructure and parks system, to our law enforcement, to governance. While our folks are out there, they’re learning a tremendous amount from the folks that are working with them, bringing that home to their home agencies and to the department Today, we’re going to hear from one of our star in country coordinators, Paata Shanshiashvili, who has worked with us for more than decade Paata is often referred to the John Muir of Georgia, which is really quite a big statement We have been fortunate to have such a talented and inspiring partner for our work in Georgia He will describe for us how the Department has influenced the path of development in Georgia We’re also going to hear from Ken Mabery, who is the acting superintendent of the Colorado National Monument. He’s long served as the senior advisor on the Georgia projects and has conducted numerous short term assignments in Georgia over the years. Ken will tell us about the many benefits this work has had in work over here in the United States With that, I am going to turn to Ken for some remarks. Thank you so much [applause] Thank you Those of us sitting in this room, we, of course, take it for granted that the world’s largest collection of geysers will be protected for all time. We take it for granted that a valley in California, that has some of the nation’s highest waterfalls and largest trees, would be a legacy for future generations and so on This is not always the case all over the world After 150 years, national parks and other protected areas now seem such a part of our landscape that we often forget that it wasn’t always this way, and it wasn’t always that way all over the world. Georgia, who we are featuring today, that was the case In this country, preservation was the division of a number of conservationists,. You’ve probably got your favorite. In the interests of time, some of the big starlets of conservation in this country were John Muir, who we’ve already had an illusion to, President Theodore Roosevelt We are sitting in the Rachel Carson room and appropriately, because she brought global conservation to the mindset of many Americans The person that we are going to hear from, from Georgia, follows in those footsteps that Georgia wasn’t as lucky as we were here in the United States. They have one champion

We’ll hear from him in just a moment The phrase “America’s best idea” is most often attributed to Wallace Stegner in his writings This has become an icon for the rest of the world to emulate. They want to emulate America’s best ideas, the national parks and other protected areas In order to export that idea, it became incumbent on the Department of the Interior to devise a way of doing that effectively and efficiently Thus 20 years ago, the ITAP program was born There are 152 countries around the world that have national parks and protected areas, and there are over 2,000 protected areas established worldwide ITAP is attempting to reach those countries that need additional assistance in making their protected area system fully operational It’s in that light that Paata Shanshiashvili friend, conservationist, visionary, and the John Muir of his country has been our contact for the last 15 years. Paata [applause] Thank you, Ken. Good afternoon, American friends and colleagues. It’s a big honor to be here, to celebrate together with you, 20 years’ anniversary of ITAP, which is the unique instrument, globally. …The national protected areas authorities around the globe have such a wonderful instrument to share the best practices and experiences with the rest of their colleagues working around the globe Welcome to the journey to learn more about exciting and inspiring partnership between Georgia and United States’ Department of the Interior. My connections to the Department of the Interior started when I was schoolboy In 1973, my father brought to me this postcard, which is the Yosemite Valley. In Soviet times, when I saw this picture, I thought I would never be allowed to go there But this dream, history made possible to happen A little later, still nuclear times, there was Soviet American seminar for national parks arranged in one of the seven republics in Lithuania, when first time in history, six park service employees came to that seminar I had the privilege to present there my ideas, thoughts, as a young landscape architect, putting more emphasis on the landscape values that would bring to the socioeconomic sphere the new dimension I did this in English, and big Russian brothers noticed it. They came to me and told me not to communicate with Americans at all. Next day, we had a field trip where all members of American delegation came to me in a bus, while this Russian guy was sitting next to me. He noticed it, …to me. Being very upset and a vicious, young professional, in 1985, I told the head of the American delegation, Dennis Galvan, that one day, we Georgians and Americans will have direct relationships That happened. In 1999, this long awaited partnership started, when famous, outstanding person, Brooke Shearer, special adviser of the park service, came to Georgia, and this partnership started. To give you more understanding of what country Georgia is, this is still on this planet [laughter] Part of the Europe, and just to give you the better feeling of that, this is the extreme southeast of Europe, the Caucasus, and neighboring countries around Georgia are Russian Federation we are not lucky with that, but still Russia, our neighbor [laughter] Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are also having the same history of Soviet struggle, and Georgia,

the country in between. Georgia is located at the Black Sea. In the north, there is the Caucasus mountains. They’re the highest mountains in Europe. In the south, we’ve got mountains as well. The lowlands, wetlands, forests, arid areas, these are all in the territory which is size of West Virginia Very small, but very generously, densely rich with the natural cultural legacy. I want you to deliver that, that’s why I’m offering some journey through my photographs and landscape photography as well. This picture of one of the Georgian summits together with a monastery, on the left, which is one of the oldest monasteries You see here, monastery? It indicates that this is the country of long history. Christianity came to Georgia in the first century. Apostles came to Georgia and the Georgian Kings were baptized in 4th century Statement of … history of Georgia dates back over 3,000 years. The cultural and economic history is archeologically proved with artifacts, dates back to 8,000 years of winemaking. This is a cradle of many cultural phenomena, including winemaking The country really is rich from the ecosystem’s diversity, very high level of endemism. The range of the altitudes vary from four meters below sea level in the Black Sea area where dews are supporting water, and the wetlands of below the sea level, up to 5,000 meters, which is very high, believe me You see the richness of ecosystems. This is the area there. It looks like Arizona, but still in Georgia. This is the area, which is twinned with the Badland National Park and many others. By the way, four Georgian protected areas are sister parks of four U.S national parks High mountain lakes, alpine medows, forests, this is actually the area which is below sea level. In mountain peaks that are one of the highest in Europe, much higher than Mount Blanc in the Alps. The… and those natural phenomena, because of this long cultural history recorded in art. This is native art. One of the native painters did this, drew this piece of art That indicates the people were painting fiction to the wildlife, to the natural features, to the natural legacy. This is a leopard, which was always in Georgia but now due to modern threat but still there The cultural phenomena in Georgia, as I mentioned, is equally important. That includes everything cultural landscapes, architecture, archaeological, non material values as well Right after the collapse of Soviet Union, Georgia is one of the unique countries in which the …were protected as …started Georgia moved very fast away from the Soviet legacy, so called…, I’m using Russian words It means there is some kind of reserve that were during certain times Those reserves were completely restricted from any public access. At the same time, they were the pleasure islands for Soviets Georgia started moving away from this concept very fast, much faster than East European countries The Georgia concept was really based on understanding that the country alone would not be able to succeed in that. The concept was, from the early times, based on the synergy between global players and bilateral partners like Department of the Interior, for example, or USAID, German government institutions or organizations like UNESCO, or IUCN, which is the world conservation union, one of the largest professional union. The national level

scientific and cultural potential and the local experience of, that local people heard about survival in those ecosystems. Based on those ideas, Georgia was one of the first countries that developed its own protected area system, which is largely based on the universal approach Let me just share with you a couple of those This is a six category system that Georgia’s protected areas are based on. That includes Strict protection, U.S. model of national park and other categories as well. Just to make clear for you the comparison. For example, first category signature was also similar to the wilderness designations in U.S The national parks in that were the same as Yellowstone or Yosemite. Natural environment is often closer to your national monuments and the nature reserves are closer to the wildlife refuges. Two other categories are pretty similar to many areas managed by Bureau of Land Management The country started preparing its ground for this inspiring partnership I mentioned. Those brilliant ideas generated in U.S., like national park, like the ranger phenomena that is rather different from any other rangers around the globe, just protected the resources U.S. rangers are multi skilled professionals managing resources, visitors, protecting, helping and at the same time, providing excellent outreach of those public land institutions for the public. Outstanding phenomena, resource interpretation, that started in the U.S. Park Service and spread all over the world Public private partnership. Your concessions involvement in public land management. This is very unique as well. Sustainable facility management, which is again a U.S. born phenomena Nowadays, this is still the most experience comes from the U.S. Park Service Based on those dreams and as I mentioned, this partnership started and the real Georgia’s program started with major three components, which is a policy and legal framework, capacity building and training, as an engine, as a core of this project. The trust boundaries protected areas’ development that they should have benefited from U.S. experience Having the transboundary parks with Canada, with Mexico and to some extent, with Russia as well. The formal relationship started at high level in the department level and affected all agencies under the Department of Interior This is the actual protected area system work in Georgia. Still ironing tight, still a lot to do, but we’re determined I would like to just highlight this protected areas’ development through one of the regions, which is the Tusheti ,as you’re seeing in the green box. One of the participants here, Jim Willis, had the privilege to visit the site. I would like to share with you some of the specifics. This is the area where we are using the different categories This is the national park covering most of natural territories, ecosystems, habitats, unique forests, high mountains and also the protected landscape, which is the category that actually protects the historical landscape, which is the unique example of harmonious interaction of mankind to the natural environment To make you believe that I would like to again invite you to look to this couple of scenic pictures taken by me again on Tusheti. This is of Tusheti, with high mountains. This is the area of the unique fork architecture, stone architecture. To the left, you see the defense structure A defense structure was used not only against man enemies, also against natural disasters like avalanches, for year round living and

survival in the area. To the right, you see the residential structure of one of the villages I picked this example, because this area where all the fruits of a gateway community benefits already started showing up and the revenues of locals started growing dramatically as you see in the graph Because people took seriously existence of park and they started re organizing their economic activities, that brought to them more revenues. This is just start. Through this program, we developed core themes like covering the entire protector’s management competences Starting from the resource management, to the resource services, to the outreach and education for sustainable facility, law enforcement It’s a different development, this role, rather based on the effective leadership, effective organizational development and effective partnership That was very new for a prospering country However, brilliant best practices that Georgians learned and still are really learning. Methods used where the Georgia based professional exchange, U.S. based professional exchange started to… in the U.S. the assemblage of the reference library that contains the treasures of the best practices and the demonstration projects People went throughout the exciting capacity development process that wasn’t boring lecturing This was more related to the combination of classroom and outdoors’ exercises that people learned many things including the fire, wildfire management had become very important for Georgia, right after the Russian Georgian war that was in 2008, when Russians bombed one of the important conservation forests and burned it. To conduct this fire and have this capacity in place, the Department of the Interior generously provided equipment in the training. You see the picture of showing how people enthusiastically joined the training People were discussing things, understanding the integrated management of those all six treasured activities, all listed above and taken care of all the globe very properly The youngsters and youth also surprisingly expressed interest to be part of this professional training. They were coming, time to time, to our trainings to learn about amazing best practices They started, for us, as I mentioned, that had a dual purpose. The picture to the right shows you the celebration of the signage of a joint action plan between the Point Reyes National Park, the National Seashore and one of the Georgia Park’s Confederation Park This process going between Georgia and Department of the Interior was well recorded by Georgian TV crews and successfully broadcasted to the Georgian audiences through Georgian TVs As a result, Georgia’s protected areas’ network has grown from two percent that was…. up to the nine percent. This is not the end of the day. This is just in the middle Unfortunately, we have losses. One of our champions Brooke Shearer died. Georgia has decided to dedicate to her name, this is one of the visitors’ centers developed throughout this project in Tusheti. This center holds the plaque on her honoring and on her memorial There is another plaque. Manufactured in U.S., this is NCTC ranger role. This in memorial

of a Georgian ranger who died fighting, in his park, fighting poachers. This person went through all the trainings. He was our student for this project There is still a lot to do. There are some projections about the future phase, a vision product that will be very appropriate for Georgia to work with the Department of the Interior in the future. This is about the completion of the PA network, which is still There is need for building the ecological corridors in connecting. Connectivities are very important ecological and socioeconomic instrument. Again, the introduction of the new very innovative conservation financing instruments and again, the integration of protected area system into the social and economic spheres that will bring the real economic sustainability. This is all about future plans, the future projections As a criteria, I would like to mention again another piece of new best practice that is in US. It’s dollar appropriated by the U.S Congress to the protectors of the United States, brings at least $4 monetary benefit to the facility, on top of intangible benefits. Thank you very much [applause] I would like to highlight a couple of things that Paata didn’t say. First of all, Outside magazine, I believe, was the first to put the label on Paata as being the John Muir of Georgia. That was back in, I believe, 2002. Is that correct? Second of all, Paata mentioned that nine percent of Georgia is now in protected area status Anybody want to take a wild guess at what percentage of the U.S. is in protected area status? Take a guess Four [laughter] Four percent [laughter] Paata says they are not finished in Georgia We’ve been holding at four percent for quite a number of years. The other footnote that Paata didn’t mention is that he is the author of the framework legislation, much like an organic act in the United States for the protected area system of Georgia, as well as the author and co author of many other pieces of legislation in Georgia To conclude here, what do DOI employees get out of the Georgia project going to Georgia? By extrapolation, many of the other ITAP projects First of all, we get to visit a country that was largely unknown to most Americans prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union Beyond that, we have a lot of knowledge transfer that occurs. The people in the circle are all in navy blue shirts, with the DOI logo as the training component, in this particular training exercise. Paata has alluded a couple of times to the four sister parks in Georgia There are 28 sister parks all around the world In a testimony to Georgia’s outreach in the colony of their national park system, out of 28, four of them are in the one country We also have the very tangible rewards of passing on some wonderful training, as Paata mentioned that the ranger phenomenon of multi skills was started off the Georgia project with a lot of skill level training, and then advanced the project into more and more complex training exercises, as time went on Going up to sustainable designs or infrastructure, management structure and practice how they should put together a headquarters system and system of managing their individual protected areas. Protected area planning coming out from under the Soviet style of management Everything was top down, not collaborative Did not seek a whole lot of input from a lot of folks and ITAP personel brought a lot of this to their program. Stakeholder involvement and partnerships, as Paata has already mentioned Reaching out to schoolchildren, but also the partnerships of reaching out between park rangers of this country and Georgia I have just recently had the pleasure of directing

a team that has done a 15 year review of everything we’ve done in Georgia and tried to give it a little bit of a map, from our perspective, of what could become the next stages for Georgia and ITAP. That is included in your folder on your chair. A summary of that report, not the report itself, I’m sorry I did mention that prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, many people didn’t realize that Georgia existed as a different country Even today when I do talks about Georgia, there are two reactions, one of which you already know and that is, “Oh, it’s a State in the Southeast.” The other reaction is, “That’s a part of Russia.” As we have all been privileged to learn as we go to Georgia and come back, it’s not a part of Russia. They have a unique alphabet, a unique language and a unique culture that is not Russian. From those unique experiences, we come back with a lot of new professional experiences that just speaking for myself, gives me a renewed vigor to do the work that I do here in the United States I see how far they have come every time we go. Every time I come back, I want to impart on my staff that vigor. Georgians have a couple of traditions that I want to impart to you that comes out, in my mind, as increasing my…the way I look at mankind, in a positive way Very often when I work in Georgia, we’re working until at least seven o’clock. I can’t ever recall getting off duty before seven o’clock Very often, it’s till eight o’clock every…sometimes until even later in the evening. As part of the reward, Georgians have this view that visitors are a gift from God. They celebrate that. When we all get off work, we participate in what’s called a Sopra, or the Georgian Evening Meal. Anytime their guest gifts from God are present, a Sopra is likely to happen A Sopra is a gathering of the guest and the local folks. It’s immersing by…, who is the toastmaster But he’s more than that. He’s also a person that is trying to make sure that everybody has a good time. We are always involved in that. That’s why I always come away with this renewed vigor for the goodness of mankind, because of the openness of the Sopra, the Evening meals and the way we’re treated We’ve bring a lot of other tangible and intangible cost over benefits away from our travels in Georgia. We have new experiences. It’s not all classroom work. We can see, as in the bottom picture, the fruits of our labor very quickly. Georgians have an almost an unqualified reverence for what we are teaching them and they try and implement it fairly quickly So let’s say nine months between various assignments in Georgia, we often see the fruits of the labor are almost immediately contrast out with how long it takes things to get done within our bureau’s here We’re always challenged to think of what is good for Georgia’s resources and Georgia’s people in their situation. What does that for me personally is that I strip away the bureaucracy of what we go through here within in our bureaus and agencies and get down to the real best practice, without all of the paperwork that goes that along with it, so that we can impart the best of what we do We have partnered not only to their agency, which they developed very rapidly over the past 15 years, but to their park rangers Had I taken this picture of this ranger a year before this one was taken, he would not have been in uniform Actually within nine months, they went from non uniform to a full uniform staff The intangible benefits. To me, the biggest one is the friendships. There are other intangible benefits of seeing the culture that dates back millennium. Even in Europe, things are old, but nowhere near as old as we learn about in Georgia and how this has influenced a culture that continues today to want to reach out to the rest of the world In closing, Paata gave you his views of how ITAP could go forward. We don’t know the status

of the project in Georgia, but we’re collaborating even without funding. Paata and I would like to bring some of the Georgian rangers to the International Ranger Federation Congress in Estes Parks in 2016. We’ll be doing this just via emails and fundraising on the part of private foundations I have enjoyed my time, 12 years with the Georgia program. I have to thank everybody from ITAP for allowing me to be involved Thank you. Barbara [applause] I am Barbara Pitkin, and I direct the ITAP program. I think you can see why I love my job. I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with Paata and Ken over the past 15 years They have been just remarkable guys, mentors and just inspiring people to work with. Thank you very much I think it’s clear the remarkable, passion, and intellect that Paata brings to his work I think Paata can rest assure that there’s when we talked about conserving for future generations, I think there is many future generations of Georgians who were going to benefit from Paata’s lifetime of work Ken, you’ve been an amazing a Senior Advisor, for the time and energy that you’ve devoted to this project has been just incredible You’re the kind of person that who is emblematic of the people of DOI who really make the ITAP experience pretty special With that, I just want to say a couple of additional thank you. Thank you, Lori, for making your opening remarks. We really appreciate all the support you’ve given to this program in your tenure and really just love working with you Thank you, Diana, for welcoming ITAP into the museum series. It’s been much easier than it would have been to put on this presentation So we’d really appreciate all that you’ve done from developing the poster, to helping us set up this room and allowing us to avail ourselves of all that you’ve learned about putting on a series of presentations Just want to publicly thank my anniversary team, Coleen Castle and Olivia Anton. This was just sort of a loud idea to throw a series of presentations. You guys have made it a reality. Thank you so much Am I missing anything? I do have little notes here Just that we welcome the entire department to be on our distribution list. If you folks in the audience are not on the distribution list, we have a sign up sheet in the back of the room. If there are colleagues that you think would be interested in participating some of our short term assignments overseas, please send them our information. We just really open our doors to the talent, that is so obvious in this department We have another 20 years, we think it, or more of exciting work to do, so we’re happy to share with you if you have any further questions. We’re actually going to Paata and Ken, are going to be staying behind to have informal chats with folks out in the cafeteria areas. If you’d like to just sit and chat with them, we welcome you do so Thank you again. I think we’re closing on time, under the scheduled allotment Thank you very much [applause]

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