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Salazar Announces National Park Service Will Waive Fees on Three Summer Weekends to Increase Tourism, Boost Economy

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today
announced that the National Park Service will offer three fee-free
weekends this summer to encourage Americans seeking affordable vacations
to visit these national treasures. There are 391 national parks located
across the country in 49 states.

“During these tough economic times, our national parks provide
opportunities for affordable vacations for families,” Salazar said at a
press conference at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “I encourage everyone
to visit one of our nation’s crown jewels this summer and especially to
take advantage of the three free-admission weekends.” “National Parks
also serve as powerful economic engines for local communities and we
hope that promoting visitation will give a small shot in the arm to
businesses in the area,” he said.

The 147 National Park Service sites across the country that
charge fees for entry will waive these entrance fees during the weekends
of June 20-21, July 18-19, and August 15-16, 2009, Salazar said.

Meanwhile, many park partners including tour operators, hotels,
restaurants, gift shops, and other vendors will offer additional
discounts and special promotions on those dates. More information on the
fees and discounts can be found online.

Visiting Ohio for the first time as Secretary, Salazar also
highlighted the $23 million the department is investing in the Buckeye
State under President Obama’s economic recovery plan. This includes more
than $7 million at Cuyahoga Valley National Park to repair the park’s
historic railroad and tackle deferred maintenance projects that have
been on the shelf for years.

“The investment we are making in Ohio will create jobs,” he
said. “For example, here at Cuyahoga, we are improving a park that
already attracts two and a half million people a year, pumps $38 million
annually into the local economy and supports 1,000 jobs.” Most
Americans live less than a day’s drive from a park, the Secretary noted.
Nationwide, parks last year attracted more than 275 million recreation
visits. Spending by non-local visitor provided $10.6 billion for local
economies, supporting more than 213,000 jobs, not counting National Park
Service jobs.

“Tourism income helps America’s economic recovery,” Salazar
said. “National park sites in the Great Lakes states, for example,
attract 8 million recreation visits a year that bring $211 million into
the local economies. Spending by visitors from out of the area supports
4,400 local jobs. So these areas need to maintain and expand this vital
tourism.” The entrance fees being waived at the 147 sites that usually
charge for admission range from $3 to $25. The 244 other parks do not
charge entrance fees. The waiver does not include other fees collected
in advance or by contractors – such as fees charged for camping,
reservations, tours and use of concessions.

The National Park Service Web site provides information to help the public plan their park adventures.

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