When North Face founder Doug Tompkins died in December in a kayaking accident, it seemed as if his South American conservation efforts had come to a premature end. But his widow is looking to carry on his philanthropy, with the BBC reporting she has offered a huge chunk of land to Chile to be made into national parks. Kristine McDivitt Tompkins says she offered close to 990,000 acres to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in a meeting the AP says took place last week, with negotiations expected to take about two years. Tompkins also reportedly met with Argentine President Mauricio Macri in December to offer his country 370,000 acres. "We want people from all over the world to be able to visit these places," Tompkins tells the BBC. "With the donation of these parks, Chile will be able [to] offer a historic legacy to the world."
Doug Tompkins was a well-known adventurer who fell off the grid in the early 1990s, cashing in his shares for both North Face and his other company, Esprit, and ditching the corporate world for a more remote lifestyle in southern Chile, the AP notes. He met and married Kristine, his second wife and ex-CEO of the Patagonia clothing company, and together they invested about $375 million in South American conservation efforts, scooping up large pieces of land to protect and then donating them to Chile and Argentina to use as national parks. At first they aroused suspicion—some feared the "gringo" and his wife were trying to appropriate Chilean water or that he was even a CIA spy—but by the time Tompkins died, those fears had mostly dissipated. "It's very hard to imagine a life without Doug as my husband, but I know that the work that we started we're going to finish," Tompkins tells the AP. (The Zuckerbergs also have headline-making philanthropic plans.)