07/28/2008 - Since the decline of the local garment manufacturing industry, the CNMI has struggled to revive its economy and reinvent its image in the eyes of the world. Now we have that chance with the White House considering the waters around our northern islands as the site of a future national marine monument-a golden opportunity to capitalize on one of our region’s greatest assets, the fragile and unique ecosystem of our oceans.
History is full of economic success stories born out of environmental preservation efforts. Take Kalispell, Montana. Founded in 1891, Kalispell began as a station stop on the Great Northwestern Railway. After the railway sought to promote Montana’s wilderness as a tourist attraction, it lobbied Congress for help and in 1910, President William Howard Taft signed legislation designating the nearby wilderness as Glacier National Park. Today, Kalispell is known as the "gateway" to Glacier with a thriving tourism economy-Need a hotel near Glacier? You’re going to Kalispell. Need gas to tour the park? Stop in Kalispell. You get the idea.-and has grown to become the largest city in its region of the state.
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A more direct comparison to bear in mind is the Papahanaumoku National Marine Monument in Hawaii established by President Bush in 2006-a key step in fostering his so-called "blue legacy" of ocean conservation-which draws $10 million in annual funding alone, according to a recent study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the organization that is spearheading the monument campaign here in the CNMI.
Read the full article Marine Monument: Good for the CNMI, Good for the Environment on the Saipan Tribune's Web site.