A park ranger in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area leading a hike for kids. Photo: Courtesy of NPS

The National Park Service released an economic report on Wednesday that found $35.8 billion was added to the U.S. economy in 2017 due to national park visitation. The report includes information on visitor spending, the number of jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics.

“This report illustrates the incredible economic value of our national parks,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said. “National parks provide us a gateway to the outdoors, family recreation opportunities and connect us to our history and heritage, and they are extremely vital to local economies all across the nation. Parks provide jobs and fuel the outdoor recreation and tourism economy.”

According the annual National Park Service report, more than 330 million visitors in 2017 spent $18.2 billion in the communities near national parks. Of the 306,000 jobs supported by that spending, more than 255,000 were in those same communities that lie within 60 miles of a park. The $35.8 billion added to the economy in 2017 was nearly a $1 billion increase from 2016’s added economic value.

Visitor spending year over year. Photo: Courtesy of NPS

An interactive tool was also created in conjunction with the report to show year-to-year figures on economic contributions national parks provide at the national, state and local levels.

For instance, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10 percent) and local transportation (7.5 percent).

Total economic output by visitors in 2017. Photo: Courtesy of NPS

Total visitor spending by category in 2017. Photo: Courtesy of NPS

California sits atop the state list for visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added and economic output. Visitor spending in California was $1.9 billion in 2017, which helped sustain 25.5 thousand jobs and created an economic output of $2.7 billion.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which encompasses several national park areas, sits atop all the national park areas for these categories in 2017.

The peer-reviewed economics report was prepared by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.

With national parks adding more and more value to the U.S. economy, it merely adds another reason to protect them and make sure all can enjoy them for generations to come.

To read the report and for more information head here.

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