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Obama Travels West for National Parks Anniversary

  • VOA News

A member of the National Park Service, left, leads Malia Obama, President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Sasha Obama on a tour of Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, N.M., June 17, 2016.

A member of the National Park Service, left, leads Malia Obama, President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Sasha Obama on a tour of Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, N.M., June 17, 2016.

President Barack Obama is visiting two national parks with his family to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of America's national park system.

Obama, his wife and their daughters toured a maze of caverns beneath the desert at Carlsbad, New Mexico, Friday before flying to California's Yosemite National Park, the country's oldest national park.

The family vacation will also give the president the opportunity to talk Saturday about his plan to reduce carbon emissions and to tout his initiatives to preserve open spaces.

The Interior Department said Friday that national park visits in 2016 were on pace to beat last year's record of 305 million. It said visitors to the parks last year spent $16.9 billion in local communities surrounding the parks.

Obama has added 20 sites or monuments to the national park system since taking office. Half of those were approved by Congress, while Obama used his own authority to create the other half.

Some members of Congress accuse Obama of overreaching his authority and argue that the government should not acquire more land until it can end a backlog of maintenance projects for current parks.

Environmental groups have urged Obama to do even more to preserve public spaces before he leaves office in January.

100th Anniversary US National Parks

100th Anniversary US National Parks

Department of Interior, 2016 Annual Economic Report

Department of Interior, 2016 Annual Economic Report

Economics of National Parks in America, by state, 2015

Economics of National Parks in America, by state, 2015

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