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National Park Visits Up, Salazar Says

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

From National Park Service/Department of Interior

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced that America’s
national parks are seeing more visitors in 2009 compared with a year
earlier, according to visitation information collected by the National
Park Service (NPS). In the first half of 2009, national park units
experienced 127,728,898 visits, an increase of nearly 4.5 million visits
over the same period in 2008. In June alone, visitation to national
parks increased by over 718,000 visits from 2008 to 2009.

“America’s national parks and public lands provide affordable and
accessible recreational opportunities from coast to coast,” said
Secretary Salazar. “It is great to see so many Americans, including the
first family, take advantage of the incredible natural, cultural, and
historic resources that we have here at home. Especially when times are
tough, our parks and public lands refuel the spirit and help energize
local economies.”

Earlier this year, Secretary Salazar announced that the National
Park Service would be offering three “fee free weekends” in 2009.
President Obama and his family visited Yellowstone National Park and
Grand Canyon National Park over the weekend, the third fee-free weekend
of the summer. All 391 national parks across the nation offered free
admission to all visitors on Aug. 15-16.

“I am hopeful that the fee free weekends are making it even easier
for Americans to enjoy the special places that belong to all of us,”
added Secretary Salazar. “I encourage families to visit recreation.gov to get great ideas for trips to national parks, wildlife refuges, public lands, and forests near their homes.”

National park units serve as primary economic generators in local
communities across America. Each year, park visitors spend $11 billion
in local economies, supporting 213,000 jobs in gateway communities,
including 54,000 jobs in the hotel and restaurant sectors, 23,000 jobs
in retail, and 18,000 in amusements sectors. In addition, the NPS has
nearly 600 concessioners at 120 different sites, employing over 25,000

To stimulate additional economic activity and to protect the
national parks for future generations, the Department of the Interior is
investing $750 million in nearly 800 projects through the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Projects will preserve and protect
national icons and historic landscapes, improve energy efficiency and
renewable energy use, remediate abandoned mine lands, and provide $15
million in grants to protect and restore buildings at historically black
colleges and universities. Additional funding through the Federal
Highway Administration will improve park roads for millions of visitors.

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