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Secretary of the Interior at Crater Lake

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CRATER LAKE, Ore. — The US Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, is kicking off National Park Week with a visit to Crater Lake National Park.

Secretary Jewell strapped on snowshoes and hit the trails with students and teachers from Eugene’s Network Charter School. She also held an informal question and answer session with students to talk about why these natural treasures are worth protecting.

Jewell says these parks provide economic value in addition to recreational value.

“There is no better return than the return we get on our national parks. We return $7 for every $1 spent,” said Jewell.

Over the past few years national parks have struggled to get funding, with sequestration cuts forcing many to temporarily close.

In an appeal to students, Jewell made a case for why a new generation of stewards needs to step up.

“You know you try to get done what you can get done, but you can’t do more with less. After a while you start doing less with less,” said Jewell during a speech to the gathered crowd.

according to the Southern Oregon Visitors Association, Crater Lake leads a tourism industry that employs more than 10,000 people in the area. In 2012, national parks combined to support nearly 250,000 jobs and generate nearly $27-billion to the economy.

Jewell says the goal of National Park Week is to simply encourage people to show up in the hopes that they enjoy their experience and choose to advocate for national parkland. All national parks will offer free admission for the remainder of the week.