The Cost of National Park Closures? Over $1 Billion and Counting

The Cost of National Park Closures? Over $1 Billion and Counting

It’s obvious that the continuing federal government shutdown hurts communities that depend on national parks, but the Coalition of National


Bryce National Park, Utah. Photo: National Parks Conservation Association

Bryce National Park, Utah. Photo: National Parks Conservation Association

It’s obvious that the continuing federal government shutdown hurts communities that depend on national parks, but the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has put a price on it: $1 billion and counting, as of today, the 14th day of the closure. Some parks have reopened thanks to funding from states and private donors, but they’re just a small fraction of the NPS properties — and for many communities, which have suffered massive cancelations from tour groups and other visitors, the damage is done.

According to data calculated by the CNPSR, the shutdown means:

715,000 visitors lost daily (based on October 2012 attendance)

$76 million lost per day in visitor spending

$450,000 lost per day that would go directly to the NPS ($300,000 in entrance fees and $150,000 in other in-park expenditures, such as campground fees, boat rentals, etc.)

“These figures are mind boggling,” said chief of the CNPSR, Maureen Finnerty, former superintendent of Everglades and Olympic National Parks, “and they only begin to capture the full economic shock of locking up the crown jewels of America – our national parks. Towns, cities, and even whole states that depend on park tourism are feeling an increasingly strong pinch. And if Congress continues to hold our national parks hostage, these communities will soon be reeling from what is in many cases the main driver of their economies.”

Here’s the impact on individual parks, according to the group, through the first 10 days of the government closure:

Acadia National Park (Maine) – 68,493 lost visitors in first 10 days, $5,263,013 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 3331 total jobs at stake, including 3147 local/non-NPS jobs

Badlands National Park (South Dakota) – 26,767 lost visitors in first 10 days, $656,986 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 475 total jobs at stake, including 375 local/non-NPS jobs.

Boston National Historic Park (Massachusetts) – 54,794 lost visitors in first 10 days, $2,032,876 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 1019 total jobs at stake, including 904 non-NPS jobs.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio) – 68,219 lost visitors in first 10 days, $1,545,205 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 819 total jobs at stake, including 599 local/non-NPS jobs.

Everglades National Park (Florida) – 25,083 lost visitors in first 10 days, $3,857,534 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 2364 total jobs at stake, including 1951 local/non-NPS jobs.

Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania) – 27,397 lost visitors in first 10 days, $1,796,712 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 1141 total jobs at stake, including 1051 local/non-NPS jobs.

Glacier National Park (Montana) – 60,273 lost visitors in first 10 days, $3,076,712 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 1994 total jobs at stake, including 1632 local/non-NPS jobs.

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) – 120,000 lost visitors in first 10 days, $11,750,684 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 6825 total jobs at stake, including 6167 local/non-NPS jobs.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina and Tennessee) – 257,534 lost visitors in first 10 days, $23,123,287 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 11,766 total jobs at stake, including 11,367 local/non-NPS jobs.

Olympic National Park (Washington) – 77,808 lost visitors in first 10 days, $2,912,328 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 1673 total jobs at stake, including 1395 local/non-NPS jobs.

Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) – 80,821 lost visitors in first 10 days, $4,821,917 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 3033 total jobs at stake, including 2641 local/non-NPS jobs.

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho) – 98,630 lost visitors in first 10 days, $9,452,054 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 5572 total jobs at stake, including 4481 local/non-NPS jobs.

Yosemite National Park (California) – 106,849 lost visitors in first 10 days, $10,021,917 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 5607 total jobs at stake, including 4602 local/non-NPS jobs.

Zion National Park (Utah) – 72,876 lost visitors in first 10 days, $3,495,890 lost visitor dollars in first 10 days, and 2401 total jobs at stake, including 2136 local/non-NPS jobs.


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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal.
Showing 22 comments
  • David Otero
    David Otero
    Reply

    Oh look, It’s an English gate.

  • David Otero
    David Otero
    Reply

    Left sides open, full speed ahead.

  • Craig Rowe
    Reply

    What a mess. The whole lot of our politicians need to go. Neither party exhibits an ounce of leadership or compassion for the average citizen. At the top levels, they’re all the same, taking money from the same special interests, collecting the same sort of pats on the back and becoming ever more entrenched in quagmire with each passing election.

    No wonder Thoreau spent so much time in the woods.

  • Lindsay Petersen Dakota
    Lindsay Petersen Dakota
    Reply

    except for bikes….. LOL

  • Eric Teixmen
    Eric Teixmen
    Reply

    Cordless angle grinder. The federal land master key.

    • Cody
      Reply

      You are my hero.

  • Lou
    Reply

    You aren’t expecting logic or common sense from Congress, are you?

  • Simone Anne
    Reply

    Yikes!

  • Channing Boucher
    Channing Boucher
    Reply

    no surprises here, our fed gov’t knows how to do one thing really well: lose/spend money. time for states to become responsible for managing our parks?

  • Derek Taylor
    Derek Taylor
    Reply

    Channing, do you really trust Utah with Arches, Canyonlands and Zion?

  • Channing Boucher
    Channing Boucher
    Reply

    Good point Derek Taylor

  • Shidan Towfiq
    Reply

    We had a French couple staying at our weekend cabin for a few days. They saved for 2 years to take a vacation to America and most of what was on their agenda were National Parks. I know most Americans don’t care about foreigners, but if you put yourself in their shoes, it’s hard to imagine this happening if you were a foreigner visiting another country.

    Luckily, our business was not adversely affected and with the camp grounds being closed, we attracted three groups of mountain bikers to camp in our meadow and had a busy weekend shuttling riders to the trailheads, since the trails in the Sequoia National Monument are still open for public use. By the looks of the report above, we got lucky.

  • alpentalic
    Reply

    I was day dreaming about the untouched snow field up on Mt Rainier, then a song came on the radio that made wonder about the foxes that hang around the paradise parking lot. When the park opens again those will first wonder where everyone has been and now that they are back why are they yelling WAPPAPOWWAPPAPOWWW!?

  • JeffandCharis Jacobson
    JeffandCharis Jacobson
    Reply

    And then our insurance premiums almost triple….awesome government we have ….

  • Aaron Edwards
    Aaron Edwards
    Reply

    Remember, the lesson is that without government, we are incapable of walking between trees. Or sitting at a river. Or climbing a mountain. Remember!

  • Aaron Edwards
    Aaron Edwards
    Reply

    Remember, the lesson is that without government, we are incapable of walking between trees. Or sitting at a river. Or climbing a mountain. Remember!

  • Jim McCoy
    Jim McCoy
    Reply

    And……bad enough they are closing the “Big Box” areas. A friend took this picture today (10-14-13), of a toilet at the Mount Shavano Trail Head in Colorado. Way off the beaten path on the edge of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness…….Really ?…… Ridiculous. (( an interesting thought too…..with the handicap accessible logo, that user group has been targeted as well….I wonder how the ADA feels about that? ))

  • Jim McCoy
    Jim McCoy
    Reply

    And……bad enough they are closing the “Big Box” areas. A friend took this picture today (10-14-13), of a toilet at the Mount Shavano Trail Head in Colorado. Way off the beaten path on the edge of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness…….Really ?…… Ridiculous. (( an interesting thought too…..with the handicap accessible logo, that user group has been targeted as well….I wonder how the ADA feels about that? ))

  • Jim McCoy
    Jim McCoy
    Reply

    The restroom above, would be an isolated one, at apx. the red bulls-eye) Beyond ridiculous…..

  • Jim McCoy
    Jim McCoy
    Reply

    The restroom above, would be an isolated one, at apx. the red bulls-eye) Beyond ridiculous…..

  • Shane
    Reply

    Let’s not forget the Feds still paid their employees (with our money) for staying at home. So it’s a double whammy. Must be nice for them…

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