by Becky Weller
Well known for having some of the highest peaks in the Carpathian mountain range, the Tatras are one of the most treasured and visited areas in Europe. It is home to Tatra National Park, where millions of visitors each year take advantage of what this wild and breathtaking area has to offer.
On Sept. 12, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) officials and ambassadors met in Zakopane, Poland to sign an agreement that would establish a sister park relationship, providing a gateway for increased international support between Rocky Mountain National Park and Tatra National Park, which contains two Parks — one the Polish side and one on the Slovakian side.
Tatra National Park, spanning across the border of Northern Slovakia and Southern Poland, was acknowledged long ago as a unique and delicate area. The Park is home to some of the world’s most interesting plants and animals, enjoyed and preserved under national park status.
The Tatras, formed between five and 20 million years ago, represent a fairly young mountain range featuring a geological composition of granite and crystalline schists, numerous cliffs, cirques (valley heads) and mountain lakes as a result of major glacial action and erosion that took place over several different time periods. These massive peaks, often compared to the Rocky Mountains (“tatra” means “rocky” in ancient Slavic), are home to many varieties of flora and fauna and, in addition, continue to support all of its native predators including bear, lynx, marten, fox and wolves. Temperatures are comparable to those in Estes Park, with snowfall in the winter being about double what it is in the Front Range.
With mirroring landscapes and wildlife it is easy to visualize these two majestic mountain ranges as sisters, despite being a world apart.
Officials from Tatra National Park and RMNP made this connection with the sister park agreement, which has drawn much enthusiasm. It is evident that the interest and support was in place before the agreement came about.
Martina Pilatova and Stanislov Hudec, visiting park rangers from Tatra National Park on the Slovakian side, have been volunteering for RMNP since August. In addition to volunteering their expertise, the pair has been actively studying the similarities and differences between the parks, sharing their experiences and observations with American rangers and scientists as well as enjoying their time traveling.