Secretary Salazar Establishes New England Blueway
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited New England last week, christening the Connecticut River as the nation’s first National Blueway, and promoting the outdoor recreation economy with a visit to the Eastern Mountain Sports store in the company’s hometown of Nashua, N.H.
“The Secretary’s actions will protect our rivers and open spaces, keys to New England’s quality of life and growth,” said Will Manzer, CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports and chair of Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA). “Here in Nashua, he saw, firsthand, how conservation and recreation are driving economic growth and jobs.”
“I am pleased to recognize the Connecticut River and its watershed with the first National Blueway designation as we seek to fulfill President Obama’s vision for healthy and accessible rivers that are the lifeblood of our communities and power our economies,” Salazar said.
The National Blueway designation promotes water quality, in-stream flows, habitat protection and recreation values in our nation’s major waterways. National Blueways include the entire river from “source to sea,” as well as the river’s watershed. This designation is designed to support existing local and regional conservation, recreation and restoration efforts — not establish a new protective status.
Federal, state and local collaboration will be pivotal to Blueways preservation. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack pledged his support, focusing on the benefits of river recreation. “Outdoor recreation is a powerful economic engine for rural America. By working to protect our rivers and streams on national forests and on our private working lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is committed to promoting land stewardship and outdoor recreation.”
During his visit to New Hampshire, Salazar also convened a Roundtable on Tourism and Recreation with the state’s business and conservation leaders. Focusing on the economic benefits of tourism and outdoor recreation in Nashua and beyond, Salazar called for investment in rivers, parks and refuges to promote economic growth and create jobs. Teaming with Manzer, the secretary highlighted the work of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in protecting natural areas and local parks, trails and open space. Created in 1965, LWCF applies royalties from offshore oil and gas development to conservation and recreation projects.
OIA works closely with the Obama administration to promote outdoor recreation and funding for public lands, including helping develop the Blueways concept under the president’s America’s Great Outdoor initiative.