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 Democratic senator 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 Democratic 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," the senator 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 spending.