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Laura Bush to raise funds to restore National Mall

WASHINGTON — Laura Bush is joining a major effort to raise hundreds of million dollars from corporations and individual donors to restore the National Mall in Washington.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday named Bush the honorary chair of the $350 million fundraising effort during a luncheon on the mall. Organizers say the annual luncheon raised $1.75 million for the mall this year.

Bush will head a team of high-profile individuals who will support the nonprofit Trust for the National Mall. Since Jan. 1, the group has raised more than $3 million for the nation’s most visited national park.

Its dead grass, broken sidewalks and stagnant pools of water have drawn attention in recent years. The group says the mall needs $400 million for deferred maintenance and more to meet visitor needs.