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Schatz introduces bill to expand national parks

MEDIA RELEASE

Sen. Brian Schatz has introduced his first bill in the U.S. Senate.

This legislation, the Pacific Islands Parks Act of 2013, would direct the National Park Service to complete studies of three designated sites in the state of Hawaii.

Hawaii is currently the home of seven national parks, which brought in more than $259 million in 2011. The bill also includes provisions for studies on Midway Atoll, the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau.

“One of Hawaii’s greatest resources is its globally unique mountains, forests, volcanoes, trails, and wildlife,” Schatz said. “Visitors from all over the world travel to Hawaii to experience not only the natural beauty, but also the cultural and historical significance of our national parks, which has resulted in a significant contribution to our state’s growing economy. These studies are a critical step in protecting natural resources, preserving history and culture in Hawaii and across the Pacific, and providing access to residents and visitors who want to share in Hawaii’s breathtaking natural environment. It is my hope that this legislation will begin a conversation about what sites should become national parks, monuments, trails, preserves, memorials, historic sites and other public land designations.”

Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands State Director for The Trust for Public Land noted: “Parks are a wise investment, supporting hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor recreational activities that contribute a total of $725.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy, and 6.15 million jobs according to the Outdoor Industry Association. More broadly, outdoor recreation, nature conservation, and historic preservation contribute a total of $1.06 trillion annually to the economy, supporting 8.4 million jobs – or one out every 16 jobs in the U.S.”

“The Sierra Club appreciates and strongly supports Senator Schatz’s efforts to protect Hawaii’s special places,” said Robert D. Harris, Director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii. “Recognizing the looming impacts of climate change and sea level rise, this is an important step towards preserving Hawaii’s unique cultural and natural heritage, and ensuring our children have amazing beaches and wild places to explore.”

“The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was enacted nearly 50 years ago to use revenues from the extraction of offshore oil and gas to support the conservation of other precious resources – our land and water,” said Suzanne Case, Hawaii State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “Today, the LWCF is the primary federal financing tool to conserve our national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. Legislation like that introduced by Senator Schatz today proposes to identify some of those precious resources in Hawaii and the Pacific that are at risk of being lost, but have the potential for protection through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”

“We support Senator Schatz’s efforts to expand National Parks in Hawaii because Hawaii’s long-term well-being, environmentally, economically, and otherwise, is directly linked to the land and the choices we make about it,” said Ted Clement, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust Executive Director. “Indeed, Hawaii’s state motto proclaims, ‘The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.’ The proposed legislation will help keep Hawaii a world-class destination and highly desirable place to live, work and visit – factors critical to our economy.”

Schatz invites suggestions on potential park sites as well as feedback on what the people of Hawaii and the Pacific want from their national park system and other public lands.

Comments may be made by selecting the “new parks” from the topics drop-down menu at www.schatz.senate.gov/contact….

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