This is National Park Week and on Wednesday a new government report shows National Park Service sites contributed $34.9 billion to the economy in 2016, a $2.9 billion increase over the previous year.
In Montana, that amounted to more than $762 million, supporting 9,500 jobs.
“This report is a testament to the tangible economic benefits our parks bring to communities across the nation. Visitation numbers continue to rise because people want to experience these majestic public lands,” Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke said.
Glacier National Park contributed some $339 million to local and state economies, more than a $70 million increase over 2016. Meanwhile, Yellowstone National Park’s economic impact totaled $680.4 million, a $41 million increase.
“National Parks are America’s treasure which provide magnificent outdoor recreation opportunities and serve as economic engines for local communities. In my own hometown of Whitefish, Montana, I saw how the popularity of Glacier National Park led to growth of the local outdoor rec and eco-tourism industry. And while traveling to Sequoia and Kings Canyon last week it was exciting to see tourism towns dotting the road to the park,” Zinke said.
Many parks saw record visitation in 2016, during the National Parks’ Service centennial celebration.
The report shows that most park visitor spending was for lodging (almost 33%) followed by food and beverages, gas and oil, admissions and fees, souvenirs and other expenses, local transportation and camping fees.
“National parks like Yellowstone, Zion, and Gettysburg connect us with nature and help tell America’s story,” said Michael T. Reynolds, acting director of the National Park Service. “They are also a vital part of our nation’s economy, drawing hundreds of millions of visitors every year who fill the hotels and restaurants, hire the outfitters and rely on other local businesses that help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry.”
The report was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.
Click here to view the full report.