National Parks Report: Nearby Towns Lost Nearly Half A Billion In October Shutdown
By Jessica Robinson
Towns around national parks lost an estimated $414 million dollars during the partial government shutdown last October. That's according to a report out Monday from the National Park Service. Although communities say it wasn't a complete loss.
Most of the country's national parks locked their gates for 16 days last fall. It was one of the most visible and immediate effects of the standoff over spending in Congress. Some states scrambled to find money to keep iconic places like Grand Canyon and Zion National Park open – and to keep the tourist dollars flowing to hotels, outfitters, grocery stores and gas stations.
Thousands of tourists pass through Idaho Falls every year on their way to Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park – which remained closed during the shutdown. Michelle Holt of the area Chamber of Commerce says the region did take a hit, but at least at first, there was a positive side ….
Michelle Holt: “People who had been planning additional in the parks during that couple of weeks and then couldn't get in there, that meant they spent additional time in those bordering communities, hoping that well maybe tomorrow it'll be open and maybe we'll be able to get in.”
Still, the National Park Service says the system lost out on nearly 8 million visitors and nearby communities lost nearly half a billion dollars.
The agency also released 2012 figures on the total economic contribution from national parks, monuments and recreation areas. In Idaho, an estimated $30 million dollars was generated, in Oregon, it was $80 million; and in Washington -- home to three national parks -- it rang up at $530 million.
Report: “Effects of the October 2013 Government Shutdown on National Park Service Visitor Spending in Gateway Communities” - NPS
Report: “2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects” - NPS