In far west Texas, near El Paso, the Chamizal National Memorial is dedicated to the Chamizal treaty of 1963, signed by President John F. Kennedy and Mexican President Adolfo Lopez Mateos. That treaty peacefully resolved a boundary issue that had been a sore point between the two nations for over 100 years. Because the Rio Grande had changed course, as rivers do, the two countries couldn’t agree on the exact international boundary. The 1963 treaty equitably divided 600 acres between the two countries. Chamizal is one of two national park sites in America that commemorate a peaceful solution to an international boundary dispute. (The other is San Juan Island National Historical Park in Washington state.)
Today the Memorial serves as a cultural center for the borderland community by welcoming people from all cultures to come together and enjoy common interests such as the visual and performing arts, educational and interpretive programming, and shared history. Chamizal National Memorial stands as an example of what diplomacy and cooperation can achieve.
Like most of the parks of the National Park System, the national parks of Texas face serious challenges as we move toward the National Park Centennial Year of 2016. These include the need to acquire adjoining, threatened lands, air and water pollution, under-funding and under-staffing, inappropriate use of off-road vehicles, and the challenges of Texas’s location on an international border.