Maui News

Schatz Proposes National Park Expansion to Grow Tourism

March 20, 2013, 1:33 PM HST
* Updated March 20, 9:15 PM
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US Sen. Brian Schatz, courtesy photo.

US Sen. Brian Schatz.  Photo courtesy Office of US Sen. Schatz, from an unrelated hearing held in February 2013 .

By Wendy Osher

US Senator Brian Schatz introduced a bill aimed at increasing tourism by expanding National Parks in Hawai’i.

More than $259 million was brought in from the state’s seven national parks in 2011, according to a press release issued by the senator today.

The legislation, being called the Pacific Islands Parks Act of 2013, reportedly directs the National Park Service to complete studies of three designated sites in Hawai‘i.

“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,” said US Sen. Schatz in the media release.

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The bill also reportedly includes provisions for studies on Midway Atoll, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau.

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“Visitors from all over the world travel to Hawai‘i 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,” said Schatz in the statement.

Schatz called the studies a “critical step” in protecting natural resources and preserving history and culture.

Supporters of the measure say that in addition to the monetary contribution parks provide for the national economy, they also support millions of jobs across the country.

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Suggestions on potential park sites as well as feedback can be made via the senator’s official government website (select “new parks” from the topics drop down menu).

The bill was the first piece of legislation introduced by Sen. Schatz in his new role as US Senator.

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