His Park Is Bigger Than His Bite
Chile Dedicates New Nature Park on Land Purchased by Rich American
Some 738,000 acres of pristine rainforest in southern Chile will get official billing as a nature sanctuary today, thanks to a deal between U.S. tycoon Doug Tompkins and the Chilean government. Tompkins, cofounder of the sportswear company Esprit, paid more than $30 million for the land and spent many years trying to get it officially protected. Now that the government has agreed to do so, control of the area, dubbed Parque Pumalin, will be handed off to a seven-member Chilean directorate. Tompkins created a huge controversy when he first purchased the land, and some Chileans still bristle at the notion of a wealthy outsider buying up a sizable chunk of their country. In all, Tompkins has created 11 wilderness parks encompassing almost 2 million acres in Chile and Argentina. Most other rich foreigners operating in the region are inclined toward less noble pursuits: building resorts, drilling for oil, and mining for gold.