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Department of Interior sends cash into Alaska's businesses

Posted: July 13, 2012 - 12:08am

A new report released by the U.S. Department of the Interior said Interiors activities added $385 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011 (goo.gl/sgCLV), up from $363 billion in 2010.

Of that, Department activities added $1.45 billion to Alaska’s economy in 2011 (goo.gl/HpdyU). These activities, the report continues, supported nearly 11,500 jobs.

“Real, lasting impacts on communities and small businesses,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a press release.

Much of the economic activity in Alaska was based in energy development, oil and gas, mining and tourism and outdoor recreation.

Interior umbrellas the bureaus of Indian Affairs, Land Management, Ocean Energy Management, Reclamation, Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the National Park Service, Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Geological Survey.

Interior’s National Park Service manages the 3.3 million-acre Glacier Bay National Park and Sitka National Historic Park In Southeast Alaska.

Glacier Bay has a base budget of $4.75 million with 57 permanent and 78 seasonal employees managing a park that saw more than 400,000 cruise ship passengers and around 16,500 visitors by other means, according to a National Park fact sheet.

Sitka’s National Park saw 189,000 visitors in 2010, according to the National Park. Its budget topped $2 million that year and the next.

Interior manages more than 213 million acres of land and offshore areas in Alaska, according to the DOI.

An Interior study from June found that recreation in U.S. national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands contributed nearly $47 billion to the U.S. economy in 2010.

Alaska received 4.4 million visitors to its National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and other Interior lands, the report said. These visitors supported 5,615 jobs.

Nearly 378,000 people visited Denali National Park alone, contributing more than $83 million to the local economy and supporting 1,800 jobs.

The Department manages land and water, develops energy and mineral resources on public lands, encourages tourism and outdoor recreation at U.S. national parks, monuments and refuges, conserves wildlife with an eye for tourism, hunting and fishing, offers support for tribal communities and supports scientific research and innovation.

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