Study of Economic Benefits of Parks to Communities

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Date: August 17, 2006

For Immediate Release


Vancouver, WA – A recent study produced by the National Park Service’s Chief Social Scientist in Washington, D.C., highlights the economic benefit of units of the National Park System to local communities. Included in this study is Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (NHS), located in Vancouver, Washington and Oregon City, Oregon.

According to the study, Fort Vancouver NHS recorded 786, 800 visitors in fiscal year 2005, from October 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005. Using this and other data, Dr. Jim Gramann and research associates with 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 supports 834 jobs in the community.

"We are delighted that this information has come to light, as we have long speculated on the park’s local economic benefit," exclaimed Tracy Fortmann, Superintendent of Fort Vancouver NHS. "This data is yet another way to show the economic benefit of the National Park System to our local communities. To know that the park supports 834 local jobs and benefits the local community to the tune of $37 million dollars is extraordinary. If we apply the old adage ‘Money talks,’ then Fort Vancouver is a screaming success in serving our community."

The study, titled Fiscal Year 2005 Economic Benefits, was prepared by Jim Gramann, Ph.D., the National Park Service’s Visiting Chief Social Scientist. It includes all units of the national park system in fiscal year 2005. The study utilizes the Money Generation Model- Version 2 (MGM2) – a conservative peer-reviewed tool used by the NPS Social Science Program to estimate the contribution of visitor and park payroll spending to gateway economies within a 50-mile radius of parks.

A good way to describe the MGM2 estimates is that they represent dollars that enter a gateway economy as a direct result of a park’s presence and operation. MGM2 is managed through a partnership with Michigan State University. The MGM2 estimates are an important indicator of the return on the public’s investment of tax dollars in the National Park System. This return is typically 400% or more.

In the vicinity of Fort Vancouver NHS, for example, the study shows the economic benefit of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, with 237,179 recorded visits in fiscal year 2005, at $15,241,000 to its local community, and supporting 351 jobs. The same study shows that the economic benefit of Mount Rainier National Park to local communities is $41,584,000 and supporting 1,012 jobs. It also lists Walla Walla, Washington’s Whitman Mission National Historic Site’s benefits at $2,397,000 and supporting 255 jobs.

On a statewide level, units of the National Park Service in the State of Washington, including Fort Vancouver NHS, recorded 7,137, 998 recreational visits in fiscal year 2005, with an economic benefit of $257,556,000 and supporting 6,051 jobs.

On a national level, the analysis below estimates the economic impacts of the National Park System on gateway regions in FY 2005:

FY 2005 Contribution of Visitor Spending

• 272.6 million recreation visits.

• $10.4 billion in visitor spending in gateway regions.

• 211,200 jobs supported in gateway regions.

• $3.9 billion in local wages and salaries in gateway regions.

FY 2005 Contribution of Payroll and Benefits Spending

• 23,978 NPS jobs (including administrative units, such as regional offices and centers).

• $1.4 billion in NPS payroll and benefits (including administrative units such as regional offices and centers).

• 35,190 local jobs supported in gateway regions (including NPS jobs).

• $1.7 billion in local wages and salaries in gateway regions (including from NPS jobs).

Combined FY 2005 Contributions

• $11.9 billion in combined visitor spending and NPS spending on payroll and benefits.

• 246,400 local jobs supported in gateway regions (including NPS jobs).

• $5.6 billion in local wages and salaries in gateway regions.

For more information on the study, Dr. Gramann and the National Park Service’s Social Science Program can be reached at 202-513-7189 or 979-845-4920 or by e-mail.

Background: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, 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.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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