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Contact: Greg Shine, 360-816-6231
Contact: Tracy Fortmann, 360-816-6205
Vancouver, WA - Today, Superintendent Tracy Fortmann announced that annual visitation to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site surpassed one million for the first time in the site’s history.
According to the National Park Service (NPS) Public Use Statistics Office, Fort Vancouver NHS recorded 1,010,153 recreational visits in the 2009 fiscal year, which ran from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009. This represented a 17.4% increase over the previous fiscal year, and is especially significant as the annual Fourth of July celebration – bringing 60,000 to 80,000 visitors each year -- did not occur in 2009.
Included in this total was the McLoughlin House Unit of Fort Vancouver, located in Oregon City, Oregon, where visitation increased 35.2% to 13,589.
“With so many places, events and activities available in the metro area, we’re excited that more and more people are choosing to visit their national park,” exclaimed Tracy Fortmann, park superintendent. “We have broadened our programming to be more inclusive of places in the park such as the Columbia River waterfront, the Village, and the new trail system to the Land Bridge. These places have seen the greatest jump in visitation, and we’re glad that more people are choosing to visit them; this provides us great feedback.”
"We are certainly not surprised by the increase in visitation,” noted Elson Strahan, President & CEO of the Fort Vancouver National Trust. “It is a real testament to the quality programming and interpretation that continues to bring more members of the public to this historic site. Our community is extremely fortunate to have such an incredible resource."
“This increase in visitation also directly benefits the entire community,” explained Greg Shine, the site’s chief ranger. An official study produced by the NPS Chief Social Scientist in 2005 highlighted the economic benefit of units of the National Park System to local communities. At that time -- when the park’s visitation was 23% lower -- the NPS Social Science Program calculated the park’s economic benefit to the local community at $37,262,000. They also found that the park supported 834 jobs in the community. “Although today’s economic climate is admittedly different than it was in 2005, we believe that the park’s economic benefit to the community has also increased,” noted Shine, “along with our increased visitation.”
Several other area units of the national park system also recorded increased recreation visitation during the same period, including Olympic National Park (3,289,346 recreation visits -- an 8% increase), Mount Rainier National Park (1,181,568 recreation visits -- a 1.8% increase), Crater Lake National Park (381,685 recreation visits -- a 6.6% increase), San Juan Island National Historical park (264,243 recreation visits – a 4.1% increase), and John Day Fossill Beds ( 116,703 recreation visits – an 18.1% increase).
BACKGROUND: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service and the only national park in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area, is the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver’s role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, festivals, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special activities -- create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.