Quantcast

National Parks Added $36 Billion to U.S. Economy Last Year

Popular
Utah's Zion National Park. Jared / Flickr

As the nation observes National Park Week, the Interior Department released a report Wednesday touting that visits to national parks added $35.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017—a nearly $1 billion increase from the year prior—and supported 306,000 jobs.

The National Park Service said more than 330 million visitors spent $18.2 billion in the communities near the national parks last year.


"This report illustrates the incredible economic value of our national parks," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement, "and further shows the value in President Trump's plan to rebuild park infrastructure."

The annual report comes not long after Zinke backed down on his proposal to nearly triple entrance fees for some of the country's most-visited parks to pay for the parks systems' $11 billion maintenance backlog.

Critics scorned the exorbitant rates for reducing park access for low-income Americans and the economic impact on national park gateway communities from decreased visitation.

John Garder, the senior director of budget and appropriations at the National Parks Conservation Association, told EcoWatch that the department's announcement confirms the huge economic value of parks and is "one of many reasons to protect and repair them."

In his statement, Zinke insisted on the need to close the maintenance backlog.

"As parks remain a popular destination for American families, we must continue to address deferred maintenance and infrastructure needs to ensure parks remain world-class destinations," he said. "One of the ways the President and I are doing this is by partnering with Congress on a bipartisan bill to address the maintenance backlog."

This proposed legislation would use up to $18 billion in new revenues from mining and drilling in America's public lands and coastal waters to pay for the delayed park projects.

The Trump administration has proposed massive budget cuts to the National Park Service, including the firing 1,835 employees at a time when park visits are at record highs.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) surfacing, showing the remains of a blow and its mottled appearance near South Georgia Island in the Polar Regions. Mick Baines & Maren / Getty Images

The largest animal on Earth is proving that wildlife protections work.

Read More
A pipeline that ruptured in Mississippi Saturday, forcing hundreds to evacuate. Yazoo County Emergency Management Agency

More than 300 people were forced to evacuate and 46 were sent to the hospital after a gas pipeline ruptured in Mississippi Saturday.

Read More
Sponsored
Pexels

By Tim Lydon

Climate-related disasters are on the rise, and carbon emissions are soaring. Parents today face the unprecedented challenge of raising children somehow prepared for a planetary emergency that may last their lifetimes. Few guidebooks are on the shelves for this one, yet, but experts do have advice. And in a bit of happy news, it includes strategies already widely recognized as good for kids.

Read More
Pexels

Be it Nina Simone and James Brown for civil rights, Joni Mitchell and Marvin Gaye for the environment, or Jackson Browne and Buffalo Springfield for nuclear disarmament, musicians have long helped push social movements into the limelight.

Read More
Yulia Lisitsa / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Brianna Elliott, RD

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.

It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles.

Read More