Also tour University of Maine's floating wind turbine project
FREEPORT, ME — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis today joined Senator Susan Collins at L.L. Bean's flagship store to highlight the importance of outdoor recreation and investment in conservation of parks and other public lands. They later visited the University of Maine to tour its deepwater offshore wind technology testing facility.
“L.L. Bean demonstrates the power of outdoor recreation to create jobs and spur economic growth in communities both here in Maine and across our country,” Salazar said, noting that the company employs 5,000 people. “When we invest in conservation and encourage people to reconnect with nature, we aren't just investing in our quality of life but also in our economy.”
“It is a false choice to pit the environment versus the economy. In fact, Maine's clean air and natural landscape is what attracts many individuals and businesses to our great state. Tourism generates nearly one in every five dollars of sales and supports the equivalent of one in six Maine jobs,” said Senator Collins. “Here in Maine, private landowners are good stewards of our forests and deserve praise for allowing public access to their lands. As companies, like LL Bean, have proven these public-private partnerships form the foundation for striking the right balance in meeting our shared conservation goals.”
“We appreciate the partnership approach that L.L.Bean and others in the industry enjoy with the Department of the Interior and Secretary Salazar,” said Chris McCormick, L.L. Bean President and CEO. “Our missions both play an important role in inspiring American's to enjoy the great outdoors. Outdoor recreation is essential to American's quality of life and the country's economic vitality."
“Parks tell the story of the American people”, said Director Jarvis. “But they are also a great untapped resource in fostering health and wellness. Our national parks have always been loved for their symbolism and scenery, but we aim to increase the awareness of all parks as places for exercise and healthy living.”
After touring the iconic store which draws visitors from across the country, Salazar pointed out the Department of the Interior supports $363 billion and 2.2 million jobs annually in the United States.
One in twenty jobs in the United States are in the recreation economy – more than there are doctors, lawyers, or teachers, he noted. Recreation in national parks, refuges, and other public lands alone led to nearly $55 billion in economic contribution and 440,000 jobs in 2009.
Salazar highlighted President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a conservation ethic for the 21st century and reconnect Americans, especially young people, to the natural world.
He urged strong support for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Act, the landmark program that funnels revenues from oil and gas development to support acquisition of land and waters for conservation and recreation. Each dollar from the fund generates $4 in economic activity.
According to a McKinsey & Company report issue in June, the leisure and hospitality sector is the fifth-largest employer in the United States. McKinsey estimates that the leisure and hospitality sector could add 2.1 to 3.3 million jobs in this decade – the third highest job growth potential by sector.
Salazar and Collins then toured a wind technology project at the University of Maine that is developing designs for floating offshore wind turbine platforms, and met with state and project officials to discuss potential next steps for offshore wind development in Maine, including the regulatory permitting process. Supported by the Department of Energy and State of Maine, the project could form a strong base from which to develop U.S. expertise and leadership in the use of floating-platform wind turbines in deepwater areas of the Outer Continental Shelf.
Later in the day, Salazar will travel to Millinocket to hear from community members and stakeholders regarding the potential creation of a new North Woods National Park east of Baxter State Park and adjacent to the Penobscot River.