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Schatz's first bill aims to add more national parks in isles

By Mary Pemberton

Associated Press


U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz introduced a bill Wednesday that seeks to expand Hawaii's national parks while preserving the state's special places and bringing in more tourism dollars.

Hawaii has seven national parks, but Schatz wants to add more. The Hawaii Democrat held a conference call Wednesday joined by several conservation organizations in which he said Hawaii wants to identify those places that are biologically and historically significant, or just "extraordinarily beautiful."

The Pacific Islands Parks Act of 2013, the first bill to be introduced by the senator sworn in last December as the late Sen. Daniel Inouye's successor, would direct the National Park Service to complete studies of three designated sites in Hawaii. The bill also would allow for studies on Midway Atoll, the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau.

Schatz said Hawaii has great resources in its unique mountains, forests, volcanoes, trails and wildlife.

"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," Schatz said in a statement.

Schatz said more national parks mean more money for Hawaii, adding that in 2011 the state's seven national parks generated $259 million in visitor spending.

He said community groups and others would work closely with the National Park Service on a process to evaluate good candidates for national park status. Communities would be consulted to determine their priorities, he said.

Each of the islands has great assets, he said.

One area that will be looked at is the Spreckles­ville area on Maui, Schatz said.

Officials with The Nature Conservancy, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Hawaii Sierra Club and the Hawaiian Islands Trust for Public Land joined the senator in the conference call.

National parks in the U.S. contribute a total of $725.5 billion each year to the national economy and provide 6.1 million jobs, said Lea Hong, state director for The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, citing figures from the Outdoor Industry Association.

They are a wise investment for Hawaii, Hong said, and more national parks will prove to be "a big shot in the arm" for Hawaii's economy.

People interested in weighing in can comment at www.schatz.senate.gov/contact.cfm.

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MalamaKaAina wrote:
Another good reason to eliminate the Hawaii Tourism Authority and use those millions to repair roads, sewers, bridges, and infrastructure.
on March 21,2013 | 01:49AM
wiliki wrote:
Baloney.... it already goes for that. IIRC over half goes to the counties.
on March 21,2013 | 07:25AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
So the first bill Schatz proposes is pork barrel. Typical Hawaii Democrat. The national parks are already suffering from lack of money for regular facilities and routine maintenance. We owe $17 Billion to China and others who don't like us. Now comes Schatz wanting to create more parks and borrow more money from China. Ridiculous. Think about this as you fill out your income tax form. Think about this when Schatz runs for Senate next year.
on March 21,2013 | 05:49AM
serious wrote:
I am sure the second bill will be to take HI off the Jones Act??????
on March 21,2013 | 06:25AM
wiliki wrote:
It's not pork barrel. It's vital for our tourism industry.
on March 21,2013 | 07:23AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Points out the problem with appointments. Imagine if some candidate actually said, "Elect me as your senior senator and the very first bill I will submit will be about National Parks!"

Voters would mock him until the candidate would disappear.

on March 21,2013 | 11:24AM
peanutgallery wrote:
on March 21,2013 | 03:03PM
loquaciousone wrote:
He has plans to turn 415 South Beretania into a national park because it's soooo under utilized.
on March 21,2013 | 07:04AM
wiliki wrote:
Maybe the downtown core of Honolulu should be declared some kind of historical preservation district. We've already destroyed a lot of historical buildings and it's become a slum.
on March 21,2013 | 07:27AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
With all the challenges faced by Hawaii, our own Alfred E Neuman of a senator chooses National Parks as his focus. Does he really want to challenge Mazie for the title of "Most Irrelevant and Out of Touch"?
on March 21,2013 | 07:43AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Mazie who?
on March 21,2013 | 07:50AM
Kawipoo wrote:
Bozo goes to Washington. They are laying off park rangers across the country and he wants to increase the parks. How about making his Hawaii home a national circus and he can be the reigning clown.
on March 21,2013 | 09:54AM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
dats funny!
on March 21,2013 | 01:31PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
Oh great. So now after the politicians bankrupt our country they will just hand over all the National Parks to the Chinese
on March 21,2013 | 01:44PM
loquaciousone wrote:
I want to nominate my front yard for a National Park. There are all kinds of wild life that need to be protected such as feral 7*&##* roosters, feral (^*&&*5 cats, pottytrainedless dogs, and dirty birds.
on March 21,2013 | 02:54PM
localguy wrote:
Yes, another rookie bureaucrat trying to waste taxpayer's money. While a national park may sound like a good idea, Schatz fails to realize the NPS has been hard hit by budget cuts, courtesy of Congress. So just where is the money coming from to create and maintain these new parks? Hello Brian? Earth to Brian, come in puhleeze. Yes, just as I thought, no intelligent life in the US Senate. Beam me up Scottie.
on March 21,2013 | 07:35PM
64hoo wrote:
the rail money from nowhere to somewhere.
on March 21,2013 | 10:15PM
64hoo wrote:
good more national parks now we can smoke in the national parks since the beach parks are prohibited. go for it.
on March 21,2013 | 10:10PM
64hoo wrote:
wow is that aliie or fourson in the picture below that says tip for a tiny belly
on March 22,2013 | 01:08AM
goofyfoot808 wrote:
Sucking up to the Greens already eh Shatz? Those of use who have utilized the Hawaii shore for generations and even centuries will now have to pay a fee fore the same, to fish, dive, surf. We vote too you bugger!!
on March 22,2013 | 10:18AM
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