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Public Statements

Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, anybody who has been outside today knows that we had a beautiful day, and the last couple of days have been beautiful, so it is hard to believe that the summer is actually coming to a close. But as it does end, I wanted to take a few minutes this afternoon to highlight something that is very important to us in New Hampshire and to the country. That is tourism, particularly the outdoor industry association and its importance to local economies in New Hampshire and across this country.

New Hampshire has long recognized the importance of conservation and the economic benefits that come from supporting outdoor recreation. Our beautiful State, like Connecticut, has an abundance of natural treasures, the White Mountain National Forest, our scenic lakes, our coastline--we may only have 18 miles of coastline but it is beautiful, with beautiful beaches and rocky coves.

These treasures draw visitors from across New England, from all over the world. Protecting these natural resources is not just good for the environment, it is also critical for our economy. In fact, the outdoor recreation economy supports 53,000 jobs in New Hampshire alone, 6.1 million American jobs across the country. That is more than we have in the construction industry, in the finance and insurance industries or in the education industry. And even in this time of economic recovery, outdoor recreation produces $646 billion in direct consumer spending.

Again, that is more than the pharmaceutical industry, motor vehicle parts, and household utilities. Americans today spend nearly as much on snow sports as they do on Internet access, and considerably more on bike gear and trips than on airplane tickets and fees. This is all detailed in a report called the Outdoor Recreation Economy, which is a very interesting analysis of what the outdoor recreation economy means to this country.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Eastern Mountain Sports. EMS is a New Hampshire-based business that specializes in outdoor apparel and equipment. At EMS, I saw the direct economic benefit that comes from our support for the development and conservation of outdoor recreation areas. I had a chance to talk to some of the 300 or so employees at EMS. They have stores throughout the east coast, and they are just one example of the countless businesses that have grown strong, thanks to the careful stewardship of our beautiful areas in this country, of the landscapes that so many of their customers visit.

One of the ways we have preserved the great outdoors at the Federal level is through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund was created in 1965. It protects lands, forests, State and local parks, and critical wildlife habitat. This critical program also helps ensure hunting and fishing access, something also very important to New Hampshire. It supports battlefields, trails, sporting facilities, and outdoor recreation opportunities in every State.

Every year since I arrived in the Senate in 2009, I have led a letter with Senator Leahy of Vermont to appropriators that supports robust funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The most recent letter was signed by 44 Senators from both sides of the aisle, a very strong showing of bipartisanship from supporters who know this is a program that works for the environment and works for small business.

I am also pleased to cosponsor legislation--bipartisan legislation--that is led by Senator Bingaman, which would permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund with dedicated funding. In New Hampshire, the LWCF has supported more than 650 local recreation and conservation projects and it helps protect locations such as the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, and the Silvio Conte Wildlife Refuge.

These scenic locations, whether they are enjoyed for relaxation or exercise, support jobs and local economies by increasing the demand for outdoor recreation equipment and by attracting visitors to our State. Those visitors eat in our restaurants, they shop at our small businesses, they stay in some of the most beautiful hotels you will find anywhere in America.

The outdoor economy supports tourism, and tourism should be recognized as the economic engine that it is throughout this country. The travel and tourism industry is one of the top 10 industries in 48 States in the country. It supports over 14 million American jobs. In New Hampshire, travel and tourism is our second largest industry, supporting over 60,000 jobs.

I had the opportunity yesterday with a number of small business owners and representatives from New Hampshire to visit Brand USA, which is the national initiative that is the result of travel and tourism legislation passed by the Senate and Congress in 2010 to begin advertising the United States outside of this country. They have advertisements now in Canada, in the UK, and in markets that are important as we think about how we can attract visitors to the United States.

In New Hampshire, it is not difficult to see why tourism is so important. Visitors are drawn to New Hampshire for our charming attractions, for our landscapes, for our foliage--which is about to begin, actually--and they provide a beautiful environment for families to spend time together.

During August my husband and I actually had the opportunity to take all of our grandchildren--our 7 grandchildren; actually, our entire family, 14 of us--up to the White Mountains. We stayed at the Mount Washington Hotel, which is at the base of Mount Washington. It is a beautiful hotel where the Bretton Woods monetary conference was held back in the late 1940s. We had a great time. We went hiking, my oldest grandson went fishing with his father, one of my granddaughters went horseback riding with my daughter, we visited the flume, which is a naturally occurring gorge in New Hampshire, and we ended the several days we were there visiting at a place called Clark's Trading Post, which is a great family business in New Hampshire. They work with black bears that roam the woods of New Hampshire, and they have been working with them for 50 years, so it is a real trained-bear show. In addition to that, they have attractions from New England, they have a railroad, and it is just a great place for the family to spend the afternoon. This was a wonderful trip. It brought our family closer. It allowed the cousins to visit with each other. We came back rested, restored, and we had a great time investing in New Hampshire businesses.

As our family saw last month, conservation programs such as LWCF are part of what we need to do to make sure those kinds of experiences are available to everybody in New Hampshire and across this country. They are a part of our responsibility to safeguard our environmental heritage. More than that, as the outdoor recreation economy shows, as so many reports show, they are an economic imperative that supports millions of jobs nationwide.

I am going to continue to work to strengthen programs such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund and to promote tourism and the outdoor recreation economy, and I urge all of my colleagues to join these efforts because they not only protect America's great outdoors, they support the businesses and the outdoor recreation economy they sustain.

Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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