National Parks Bring Economic Benefits To Nearby Communities

Mar 12, 2014 2:00 PM ET

(3BL/JustMeans) “National parks are the best idea we ever had,” said Wallace Stegner, the writer and environmentalist, in 1983. The National Park Service, created in 1916, manages 401 sites on 84 million acres across the U.S. More than just beautiful places, national parks also bring economic benefits. According to a report by the NPS, in 2012 they brought $1.5 billion worth of economic benefits. In 2012, NPS sites had over 282 million recreation visits, an increase of 3.9 million over 2011, who spent $14.7 in local gateway communities (within 60 miles of a park). The money the visitors spent contributed 243,000 jobs and $9.3 billion in labor income.   

Certain sectors benefited more than others, and the lodging sector benefited the most with over 40,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in spending. The restaurants and bars also benefited considerably with 51,000 jobs and $3 billion in spending. NPS visitors spent $1.1 billion buying food at grocery and convenience stores, and $358.9 million on camping fees. President Obama’s budget request for 2015 includes $2.6 billion for the NPS, which should bring a good return of investment considering that national park tourism returns $10 for every $1 invested in the NPS.

Click here to continue reading and comment on Justmeans.