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News of Increase in Park Visits Sparks Optimism

It could be the upside of the economic downturn: The Obama administration says visits to national parks are up nearly 4 percent this year.

The National Park Service said Monday that 127.7 million visits were made to national parks in the first six months of the year, an increase of about 4.5 million over the same period in 2008. In June alone, visits to national parks increased by more than 700,000 compared to June of last year.

"America's national parks and public lands provide affordable and accessible recreational opportunities from coast to coast," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "It is great to see so many Americans, including the first family, take advantage of the incredible natural, cultural and historic resources that we have here at home. Especially when times are tough, our parks and public lands refu…
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