Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-01) today released the following statement regarding Senator Tom Coburn’s recent report on America’s National Park System.
Benishek says, “Being a lifelong Yooper, I know national parks like Isle Royale and Keweenaw Historical Park are critically important to our economy and our way of life up here in Northern Michigan. In fact, outdoor recreation generates over $18 billion in consumer spending in Michigan and accounts for 194,000 jobs in the state. Preserving these very special places in Northern Michigan is not a waste. We need to ensure the beauty of Isle Royale and the history of the Copper Country is available for our children and grandchildren to enjoy forever.”
A 208-page report by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) just released claims Isle Royale National Park and Keweenaw National Park are among the most wasteful expenses in the country.
Both are located in the district of State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet.) He responded to Coburn’s report Wednesday saying, “On behalf of Mother Nature, I would like to apologize to Sen. Coburn,” said Dianda. “It is clear that growing up in a place like Oklahoma has robbed the senator of any ability to imagine the natural rugged beauty of Isle Royale and the Keweenaw. Had he been exposed to natural beauty at a younger age, maybe he would understand its importance.”
The report issued by Coburn purports that the $11.5 billion maintenance backlog has been caused by financially supporting misplaced priorities – Isle Royale and the Keweenaw – instead of giving those funds to “parks and memorials with true national significance.”
Dianda’s office noted in a press release that the Keweenaw Peninsula was at one time the nation’s largest supplier of copper, and played an enormous role in the country’s industrialization and electrification. The National Park Service has worked to preserve historic industrial and cultural sites associated with the mining boom, and to tell the story of the immigrants who came from more than 30 countries to work in the mining industry. The Keweenaw also has geographic significance as the site of the oldest and largest lava flow on Earth.
Dianda said, “Since Sen. Coburn clearly has no idea what extraordinary beauty exists in Isle Royale and the Keweenaw, I am extending an open invitation for the senator to be my personal guest on a tour of these gorgeous national parks. And as far as the national significance of these beauties, well, perhaps the senator did not know that a portion of the copper in the Statue of Liberty came from the Keweenaw.”
Dianda also argues that the parks contribute to Michigan’s growing tourism industry. He says the U.P., and more specifically the two national parks, have garnered national attention as part of the Pure Michigan campaign.