By MARY PEMBERTON
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has introduced a bill that seeks to expand Hawaii's national parks while at the same time preserve the state's special places and increase tourism.
Hawaii currently has seven national parks but Schatz wants to add to that number. The Democratic senator held a conference call Wednesday joined by several conservation organizations in which he said Hawaii wants to identify those places that are biologically and historically significant, or just "extraordinarily beautiful."
Schatz said stakeholders, including community groups, will work closely with the National Park Service on a process to evaluate good candidates for national park status.
The senator says more national parks means more money for Hawaii. He says Hawaii's seven national parks in 2011 generated $259 million in spending.