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Contact: Jeff Denny, 707-465-7760
More than 331 million people visited America’s national parks in 2016, eclipsing the all-time visitation record the National Park Service (NPS) saw just a year before. Redwood National Park alone recorded 536,297 visitors in 2016, continuing a trend of increasing visitation to the park every year since 2011. According to the 2016 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation report (go.nps.gov/vse), visitation to Redwood National Park in 2016 generated more than $34 million in spending in local communities and directly supported nearly 550 local jobs.
While the numbers for Redwood National Park are impressive on their own, they do not include visitation statistics for the three California State Parks within the Redwood National and State Parks partnership—Del Norte Coast Redwoods, Jedediah Smith Redwoods, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks. With the combined visitation for the four partner parks at nearly 1.5 million, it is likely that the parks within the partnership bring over $90 million in visitor spending and contribute 900 local jobs to the economy.
National and state parks continue to be important economic engines for local communities. For every $1 invested by American taxpayers in the National Park Service, $10 comes back into the U. S. economy. According to the report, 331 million park visitors to the 417 NPS sites nationwide spent $18.4 billion in gateway communities located within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion.
While good for the economy, record visitation really tests the capacity of parks to provide a great experience for all visitors. Park staffing levels have not kept pace with rising visitation. Park managers adjust to make sure they have sufficient staff to provide interpretive programs, answer visitor questions, respond to emergencies, maintain trails, and to keep restrooms, campgrounds and other facilities clean.
Perhaps the real benefit for local communities of having national and state parks as neighbors goes far beyond economics—improving quality of life by providing easily-reached green spaces for recreation and inspiration, while also protecting our national and state heritage and history.