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Thursday, May 20, 2010

American Alps Economic Study Released to Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACT:
Jim Davis (Executive Director)
North Cascades Conservation Council
360-296-5159
jimdavis@northcascades.org

Economic Study Shows Job Creation Potential of North Cascades Park

May 19, 2010 – Efforts to complete the original vision for the North Cascades National Park received a major boost with the release of a report documenting the economic benefits of the American Alps Legacy Proposal. The economic study, conducted by Power Consulting from Montana, found that designating more park land along State Route 20 and adding new family-friendly attractions will create more than 1,000 new jobs in rural communities surrounding the park.

More than 40 years after the North Cascades National Park was created, magnificent mountains, pristine rivers, old growth forests, and wildlife habitats adjacent to the Park remain unprotected. “We have also failed to achieve the potential recreation and economic benefits of the North Cascades National Park,” said former Governor and US Senator Dan Evans. Evans was a key proponent of the North Cascades National Park more than 40 years ago and currently serves on the American Alps Legacy Project Advisory Committee.

The North Cascades National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the lower 48 states. This wild and nearly inaccessible park receives fewer visitors than Isle Royale National Park in the middle of Lake Superior. Combined visitation to the North Cascades National Park and the adjacent Ross Lake National Recreation Area is still only 1/10 that of Olympic National Park. Low visitation translates directly into low economic benefits for gateway communities.

Conservation and outdoor recreation advocates seek to add more than 300,000 acres to the park, nearly a 50% increase. The new proposal will add low elevation, front-country lands to the park to make it more accessible to visitors. It will also support development of new park visitor centers in gateway communities, 25 miles of new family-friendly trails, new ecotourism sites, expanded campgrounds, and other amenities that will attract more families to the North Cascades. The proposal will affect only National Forest Service lands and Park Service National Recreation Area lands. Private lands will not be converted to national park.

“The economic study clearly demonstrates that bringing the park to the people and creating new attractions for families will dramatically increase park visitation and economic benefits for local businesses,” said Marc Bardsley, North Cascades Conservation Council President.

The American Alps Legacy Project is a collaborative effort of the North Cascades Conservation Council, the Mountaineers Club, Republicans for Environmental Protection, Seattle Audubon, the University of Washington Climbing Club, and other partner organizations. For more information on the American Alps Legacy Project, visit www.americanalps.org.

A detailed proposal for completing the North Cascades National Park will be released later this summer. “The American Alps proposal will provide conservation, recreation, and economic benefits for all Washington State residents,” said Peter Jackson, son of Senator Henry M. Jackson, leader of the original campaign to create the park.

The North Cascades Conservation Council played a key role in creation of the North Cascades National Park in 1968 and wilderness areas throughout the North Cascades (e.g., Pasayten Wilderness, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Mt. Baker Wilderness, Boulder River Wilderness, and Wild Sky). For more information, visit the Council website at www.northcascades.org.

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