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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise today to applaud the Senate's passage of a resolution I submitted earlier this week with the cochair of the Senate Boating Caucus, Senator Burr. Our resolution recognizes July 1 as National Boating Day, and more importantly, recognizes the importance of boating and fishing to our economy and our constituents.
I believe this resolution comes at a critical time. Like so many other industries, the boating industry has suffered during these tough economic times. Last summer's high gas prices and this past year's credit crisis has put many manufacturers and their dealers at risk. And that endangers the hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs that the boating industry provides.
Wisconsin is a microcosm of boating and fishing in America. With access to the Great Lakes and thousands of acres of internal lakes and rivers, Wisconsin is home to more than 1.4 million anglers and a destination for both boating and fishing related tourists. Beyond the tourism jobs generated by recreational boating, the boating industry has a strong foothold in my State. Whether it's Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac to SkipperLiner in La Crosse, boating manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and marinas account for thousands of jobs. In 2001, approximately $1 billion was spent in the State on fishing related activities, according to a study conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Recreational boating is an equal partner to the sport fishing industry, with more than $526 million being spent in 2003 on powerboats and accessories.
The importance of boating, however, extends well beyond its economic impact. More than 59 million people spend time each year on our rivers, lakes, and coastlines. These are families spending time together and they are people learning more about the natural resources our country has to offer. The true impact of boating is immeasurable.
And that is why I am so pleased to join my colleagues in supporting the resolution passed earlier today. I hope that on July 1--National Boating Day--both Members of Congress and the American people will reflect on the true importance of boating to our country.
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