The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and 12 other U.S. national parks have established a “sister park” partnership with several national parks in the Central American country of Costa Rica.

The partnership allows all participating national parks to share work on issues such as bird migration and habitat protection and restoration, said Chris Stein, superintendent of the St. Croix park, which has its headquarters in St. Croix Falls, Wis.

The $5,000 grant from Rotary International’s District 5960 helped pay for Stein and three Rotarians from the St. Croix Valley to spend nine days in Costa Rica to hammer out the agreement and determine other possible future sister park projects.

“We visited Costa Rica primarily to scope out Rotary-fundable community projects that will ultimately lead to better protection of the country’s park resources, such as rural tourism, environmental education and watershed protection,” Stein said.

Rotarians accompanying Stein were Craig Leiser of Stillwater, Fred Treiber of White Bear Lake and Judy Freund of Hudson, Wis.

Stein and director Rafael Gutierrez of Costa Rica’s national parks signed the agreement in June in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital.

Objectives of the partnership include professional development of park staff in both countries and adult and youth education about park issues.

Among the U.S. parks that joined the partnership were Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Grand Portage National Monument on Lake Superior, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in the Twin Cities metro area, and Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota.

Costa Rican national parks and protected areas participating in the partnership include Corcovado National Park, Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands, Isla del Cano Biological Reserve and Golfito Wildlife Refuge.

Projects that Rotary supports, Stein said, must address one of six areas of focus: peace and conflict resolution, education, water resources, maternal and child health, disease prevention or economic development.