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Five Years of International Support Secures Fort Ross’ Place on the World Map

FORT ROSS, Calif., Nov. 11, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In 2010, Fort Ross State Historic Park was slated for closure, visitation was down, and several much-needed historic restoration projects were permanently stalled. This situation was brought about by California’s budget crisis and subsequent decrease of funding for public lands.

But this story has a silver lining: Over the last five years Fort Ross has received support from around the globe, and the park is moving towards a brighter and more productive future.

Renova Fort Ross Foundation has provided the strongest support for Fort Ross, and their philanthropy is wide reaching. To highlight the settlement’s peaceful agricultural history, Renova, with Link of Times, constructed a full-size replica Russian-style windmill in Northern Russia which they shipped to California and installed at the park. This monument is a tribute to traditional architecture, and the mill has even inspired a documentary to tell the fantastic story of its creation. Additionally, Renova Fort Ross Foundation sponsored a new roof for the Rotchev House, the sole remaining Russian-era National Landmark building. They initiated the Fort Ross Historic Orchard Restoration plan which provided comprehensive funding to stabilize and protect this rare and living resource. In 2015 they sponsored a bilingual Russian-speaking “Fort Ross Ambassador” to share the park’s history with its growing number of visitors. Renova has also enlivened our historic festivals by funding historic costumes, and, working in partnership with Russia’s Ministry of Culture, by bringing traditional Russian song & dance to our events.

Sarah Sweedler, president of Fort Ross Conservancy, echoes the long list of donations: “Renova Fort Ross Foundation has provided such a wealth of support at Fort Ross—helping us with staffing, donating to our youth scholarship fund, or making sure our auditorium served the needs of our visitors—they have worked with us to improve the situation on the ground, and the public has definitely benefitted from their generosity.”

Fort Ross’ turnaround has relied on a wide variety of help, and Chevron and Russian companies Transneft and Sovcomflot joined in this effort over the last five years. Working in tandem, these companies (as well as Renova) contributed to making our bicentennial celebration memorable. They sponsored several large scale events that brought thousands of visitors to enjoy our park, including sponsorship for our widely popular Fort Ross-Seaview Harvest Festival. Chevron, Transneft, and Sovcomflot produced an engaging historical introductory video watched by hundreds of visitors in our Visitor Center each week. And most noteworthy, for the past four years, Chevron, Transneft and Sovcomflot sponsored Fort Ross Dialogue, an annual conference that brings a wide range of American and Russian experts from academic, governmental, and corporate realms to explore 2nd track cultural, exchange and business issues taking place along the Pacific Rim.

Fort Ross Conservancy has received substantial donations from private donors, as well as funding from public organizations such as California State Parks Foundation, California Coastal Commission, and others. This public/private collaboration has allowed Fort Ross Conservancy to donate over 1.5M to Fort Ross operations.

Fort Ross Conservancy’s efforts are far from finished. We seek improvements to the park’s infrastructure through three important projects planned and executed by Fort Ross Conservancy and our financial partners: an expanded museum and visitor center, cabins (izba) installed at the adjacent Reef Campground, and a classroom to allow more programming and an expansion of our Marine Ecology program. These projects will improve day-to-day operations at the park for decades to come.

We ask our international community and our domestic supporters to help us raise funds for these three coordinated projects which will in turn create a thriving, self-sustainable cultural heritage site for Russians, Americans, and Russian Americans. For more information please see www.fortross.org or contact Sarah Sweedler at sarahs@fortross.org.

Source:Fort Ross Conservancy