The 417 U.S. National Park Service sites added $34.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016. The total was $2.9 billion more than in 2015, said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke this week in San Francisco.In 2016, national parks supported 318,000 jobs in hospitality, retail, transportation, and recreation industries in surrounding towns of these parks. That’s twice as many as all fossil fuel industry jobs in the U.S. Coal, oil, and gas industries combined employed around 150,000 Americans in 2016.The 2016 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, an annual peer-reviewed economics study, reported that 331 million visitors to the National Parks in 2016, a 7.7 percent increase from 2015.According to the 2016 report, 31.2 percent of the $34.9 billion dollar output came from lodging, followed by food and drink at 27.2 percent, with gas and oil, park admissions, souvenirs, local transportation, and camping fees accumulating the rest.With more people visiting and spending at National Parks and surrounding communities each year, it is even more necessary for the parks to invest in infrastructure.“With continued record visitation, it’s time to start thinking about accessibility and infrastructure. Last week, it was great to see the team at Yosemite opening up areas with new wheelchair accessible trails. In the coming years, we will look at ways to make innovative investments in our parks to enhance visitor experiences and improve our aging infrastructure,” said Zinke.
By Rawle ToneyDENMARK-based Golden Jaguars defender, Matthew Briggs, says he’s anxious to get into action for Guyana in the Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifier. Golden Jags will roar against rivals Trinidad and Tobago on October 8 in their opening Group F game at a venue to be announced in the Twin Island Republic.After their clash with the ‘Trinis’, Guyana will return home to face The Bahamas on Tuesday October 13.On November 13, Guyana will travel to St Kitts and Nevis for their third game and then host Puerto Rico three days later.The first round will be played in a single round-robin format, meaning each team will play four matches; two (at) home and two away, during the FIFA International match window.“Feels good and I’m buzzing to finally be able to play in the World Cup qualifiers especially since the last time we played in the Qualifiers, I was unable to play and now going into it off the back of our recent Gold Cup tournament is a great feeling and it shows how far our national team has come,” Briggs told Chronicle Sport in an exclusive interview.Briggs, who is currently training with Vejle Boldklub in the Denmark’s Superliga, the country’s highest league, first tasted International football for the Golden Jaguars in March of 2015.Briggs played an instrumental role in Guyana’s 2–0 win over Grenada at Guyana National Stadium on March 28, 2015. However, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee overturned the result in favour of the men from the ‘Spice Isle’, claiming that the former Fulham FC English Premier League defender was ineligible to play for Guyana, since back then, he was yet to receive his Guyanese passport.According to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, who met and deliberated over the matter before handing down the sanction, GFF was liable for the violation of Article 5 of the regulations governing the application of the Statutes as well as Article 55 paragraph 2 of FIFA Disciplinary Code, for having fielded the player, Matthew Briggs, without holding Guyanese nationality.FIFA further noted that the match was declared a loss by forfeit by Guyana (3-0), citing FIFA Disciplinary Code. In addition, the Federation was ordered to pay a fine to the amount of 4 000 Swiss Francs.Fast forward to over four years later, Briggs returned to the National team when Guyana qualified for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.According to Briggs, being kept out by a (then) unresolved issue of eligibility for the run-up to the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers where Guyana went out following their defeat to St Vincent and the Grenadines, was very “disappointing”.“I’m happy that I can get an opportunity to once again suit up for Guyana. It’s always a pleasure. However, I know we have a chance to advance and I’m sure the guys are also excited to step out and give our best for our country,” Briggs noted. Golden Jaguars’ best run in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers came during the lead-up to the 2014 tournament in Brazil, where they had reached the penultimate round of the CONCACAF zone.It was during that run they had a memorable showing against Trinidad and Tobago on November 11, 2011 at Guyana National Stadium where Guyana had won 2-1, thanks to goals from Ricky Shakes and former English Premier League player Leon Cort.Guyana only played Puerto Rico twice at the senior level internationally, with the U.S. territory winning 2-0 in 1993, and Golden Jaguars, with a goal from defender King Solomon Austin, winning 1-0 in 2016.The clash against St Kitts and Nevis will mark the third meeting for Guyana, but it will also be the first time the two countries are clashing in a World Cup qualification tournament.