June 17, 2018
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US interior secretary begins New England tour

The Associated Press

COLCHESTER, Vt. — U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who’s touring New England this week, made Vermont his first stop on Monday, talking up efforts to preserve Lake Champlain, promote job growth through outdoor recreation and reduce populations of the parasitic sea lamprey in the lake.

The head of the federal agency that oversees national parks and other public lands began his five-day visit with a meeting on conservation issues at Vermont’s Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge on Monday afternoon and later made a stop at a Colchester hardware store with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

“When America invests in the protection of places like Lake Champlain, the Appalachian Trail, and the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, we not only conserve our natural heritage for future generations but we also create jobs and support the economies of communities across the country,” Salazar said in a statement.

Leahy, a Democrat who serves on the Senate panel that writes the Interior Department’s budget, said the agency’s work is key to many issues of importance to Vermont.

“The agencies that Ken [Salazar] oversees … are all making vital contributions to conservation, outdoor recreation and disaster preparedness in Vermont,” Leahy said.

Leahy, Salazar and Gov. Peter Shumlin highlighted a new agreement struck in May between Vermont, New York and the Fish and Wildlife Service to step up efforts to reduce sea lampreys in Lake Champlain. The eel-like creature attaches itself to fish, weakening them and eventually killing some. Reducing lamprey populations using mechanical and chemical tools have helped strengthen trout and salmon populations in the lake, they said.

It was the first of several stops Salazar is planning in New England in the coming days.

• On Wednesday, Salazar will meet with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., to discuss the economic benefits of offshore wind development and visit sites in the Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor.

• On Thursday, he meets with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to highlight successful public-private partnerships and tour the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, with a stop at L.L. Bean’s headquarters in Freeport, Maine.

• On Friday, he will take a boat tour of the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, participate in a Youth Conservation Corps event and visit an Eastern Mountain Sports store in New Hampshire.

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