Total Economic Value of the National Park Service

A study by Colorado State University and Harvard Kennedy School of Government

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Colorado State University and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government teamed up to study the total economic value of the National Park Service. This study is the first-ever, comprehensive economic valuation to be conducted for all parks in the national park system and the National Park Service's cultural and historic stewardship, recreational and educational programs and other programs that serve communities across the country.
This study is different from the National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects model that describes the benefits that accrue to surrounding communities through sustained economic activity and jobs. Rather, this new study –called Total Economic Value –demonstrates the benefits of parks and programs to the public, whether they visit the parks or not.
  • Total Economic Value is experiences by people who value the existence and continued protection of parks and programs-in addition to those who value the direct use of parks and programs through visitation.
The methods used in this Total Economic Value study are fully consistent with other valuation efforts within the Federal government to analyze proposed regulations, evaluate environmental compliance alternatives, quantify losses of natural resources from oil spills, and other purposes. This study was peer-reviewed and will be submitted for publication in refereed academic journals. The paper will be available on the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Environmental Economics Program and Colorado State University websites.
This Total Economic Value study:
  • Demonstrates the relevance of NPS parks and programs to people whether they visit or not.
  • Demonstrates that people value the existence and continued protection of NPS parks and programs –in addition to the direct use of these parks and programs through visitation.
  • Adds to our ability to describe the relationship between NPS parks and programs and people.
This Total Economic Value study does not:
  • Quantify all relevant values for parks and programs –rather, it quantifies only those values for which people are willing to make monetary tradeoffs.
  • Displace other valuation systems such as deep ecology and environmental ethics.
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3 minutes, 9 seconds

Learn what direct and passive use of National Parks means in this short video.

Last updated: September 26, 2019


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