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Interior chief touts funding at Acadia National Park

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar meet with National Park Service employees at the Schoodic Education and Research Center on Saturday morning, July 25, 2009.
By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — The sun came out just in time Saturday for a visit by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to Acadia National Park, one of the most-visited national parks in the country.

The visit to the park with Maine Sen. Susan Collins followed a morning meeting with Gov. John Baldacci in Bangor which highlighted $8.3 million in projects at the park, funded under President Obama’s economic recovery package.

Investment in the park under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed earlier this year by the president includes $170,000 to replace safety and informational signs, $2.2 million to resurface roads and parking lots, $844,000 to repair culverts and headwalls, $268,000 to remove unneeded buildings and $4.4 million to rehabilitate roads and parking areas at the Schoodic Education and Research Center, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“We are putting the people of Maine back to work improving key infrastructure at one of the state’s most beautiful places and most popular tourist attractions,” Salazar said during his tour Saturday. “This investment will not only help the residents of Maine find work during the current economic crisis, it will help attract more visitors and ensure that those who do visit have a fuller, more enjoyable experience.”

Salazar said more than 2.2 million people visit the park every year, generating $145 million in visitor spending and supporting nearly 3,000 local jobs.

“In seven years, Acadia will be 100 years old,” Collins said Saturday. “Age has brought both increasing popularity and greater pressures. I am delighted that recent funding included in the economic recovery package will help create jobs around the park, but it remains critical that we continue to work at the federal level to take the necessary steps to preserve and protect our beloved park for future generations to enjoy.”

The visit also highlighted projects completed with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Act, including the acquisition of the 140-acre Pooler farm on Northeast Creek in Bar Harbor, with the support of Friends of Acadia and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

“When I was in the Senate, Senator Collins and I worked closely to fulfill President Kennedy’s vision by pushing for full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” Salazar said. “This is money that comes from royalties derived from oil, gas and other natural resource development on our public lands. It should be put back into the land through conservation projects and important acquisitions such as the Pooler farm here at Acadia.”

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