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Study: National Parks draws visitors, dollars to backyard communities

At low tide, a spit extends into Westcott Bay; the 70-acre property is the latest addition to San Juan Island National Historical Park.   - Contributed photo / NPS
At low tide, a spit extends into Westcott Bay; the 70-acre property is the latest addition to San Juan Island National Historical Park.
— image credit: Contributed photo / NPS

A new National Park Service report shows that more than 261,000 visitors in 2012 spent $14 million in San Juan Island National Historical Park and in communities in the northwest Washington region. That spending supported more than 167 jobs in the area.

“San Juan islanders and our neighbors throughout the region have long recognized the park for its values of a unique history and spectacular natural setting.” SJI National Historical Park Superintendent Lee Taylor said. “What is less known is how the park adds value to the island and region as an economic as well as cultural and nature resource.”

National parks across the country continued to be important economic engines, generating $26.75 billion in economic activity and supporting 243,000 jobs, according to the report released by U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and NPS Director Jonathon Jarvis.

The figures in the report track spending by nearly 283 million visitors in communities near national parks in 2012.

More than 60,000 visitors came to San Juan National Historical Park’s visitor centers in 2013, the most recorded in the 47-year history of the park, according to Mike Vouri, the park’s chief of interpretation and visitor services.

Estimates of the impact of the October, 2013, government shutdown on local national park economies included 7.88 million fewer visitors in October 2013 compared to the three-year average in the same period in October 2010-12. The NPS estimates a loss of $414 million in visitor spending in communities nationwide.

The annual economic report and the shutdown report are available online at: www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm. For more information, contact Mike Vouri at 378-2240, ext. 2227.

 

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