By Evan Lips
LOWELL -- Over the next 48 hours, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will embark on a whirlwind of a tour, Mill City-style.
On Saturday, the Colorado native will deliver the commencement address for UMass-Lowell's Class of 2012. But before he takes the stage Saturday morning at the Tsongas Center, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas will lead Salazar through the Lowell National Historical Park.
More than a year ago, the democratic congresswoman from Lowell made Salazar promise to pay the nation's first urban national park during a congressional Department of the Interior budget hearing in which Tsongas praised the park for the positive impact its had on the city.
At the March 2011 hearing, Salazar said he would take Tsongas up on her promise and said he would visit to "illustrate what you've done in Lowell because we can do it everywhere in this country as well."
Salazar will officially make good on his promise at 2:30 p.m. Friday when he arrives at Boott Cotton Mills Museum on John Street.
From there, his schedule includes:
- A 2:40 p.m. visit to the museum's Tsongas Industrial History Center, where he will hear about "the importance of Historic Rehabilitation Tax Incentives," according to a press release issued by Tsongas' office.
- A 3:20 p.m. appearance with Tsongas at Boarding House Park, at 40 French St., to speak with the media.
- A 3:25 p.m. ride on the National Park Trolley to Lower Locks and the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center on Warren Street.
Salazar's visit to Lowell comes on the heels of his comments Thursday in which he highlighted 10 projects in the Northeast as part of the federal America's Great Outdoors River Initiative, which includes 51 projects nationwide, with at least one in each state.
In Massachusetts, the Connecticut River and its 410-mile length spanning from the Long Island Sound to the tip of northern New Hampshire is part of that initiative.
Salazar was in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday to sign a secretarial order to establish the National Blueways System, part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative that looks to establish a community-drive conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century.
According to a Department of the Interior press release, the National Blueways System was created to provide a new national emphasis of an all-encompassing approach to river management known as "headwaters-to-mouth." Salazar will also receive an honorary degree when he delivers the commencement address.