PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wrapped up a weeklong trip through New England with a visit Friday to New Hampshire’s Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, taking a boat tour and walking along a new trail built by student volunteers.

“They’re very proud of the work they’ve done there over the summer,” Salazar said of the members of the Youth Conservation Corps. “They had a job, they earned a little bit of money, and they also have been able to help us do the work at a very important facility here in New Hampshire.”

The refuge was established in 1992. It contains mud flats, salt- and freshwater marshes, swamps, ponds, streams, woodlands and fields.

Salazar noted the refuge has no onsite staff and depends on volunteers who assist with maintenance and managing invasive species.

“Our country could not have the world’s greatest system of wildlife refuges if it were not for the partnership and volunteerism of the American people,” he said.

Recreation on public lands contributed nearly $55 billion to the economy and accounted for 440,000 jobs in 2009, the Department of the Interior said.

Salazar also met with Eastern Mountain Sports and other businesses to talk about the importance of investing in public lands to promote economic growth and jobs.

He also urged strong support for the Land and Water Conservation Act, which funnels revenues from oil and gas development to support acquisition of land and waterways for conservation and recreation. Each dollar from the fund generates $4 in economic activity.