The first National Park is incredibly valuable to the local economies.
Yellowstone National Park's awesome power isn't just in the dormant super volcano that lies under visitors' feet. It's also in those visitors' wallets, according to a new study of the park's economic impacts.
A new study by economist Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service shows the first National Park created a staggering $629.6 million in economic benefits to local communities in 2017 alone.
It's no secret: Yellowstone is without a doubt, the most popular National Park in the U.S. The park draws visitors from around the globe every year. The NPS' press release states there were 4.1 million visitors to the park in 2017 alone.
Those visitors made up $498.8 million in spending in the small communities near the park's borders. All that spending helped to support 7,354 jobs, adding up to the cumulative benefit of $629.6 billion.
The report also looked at economic benefits within 60 miles of any National Park and found $18.2 billion in spending by visitors to the surrounding communities. The majority of the spending was on obvious things like food and lodging. But, souvenirs and other expenses were also high-spending points, above even admission fees and transportation.
Overall, National Parks help support 306,000 jobs nationwide with an economic benefit to the U.S. to the tune of $35.8 billion. Who says people don't get outside and enjoy nature anymore?
The economic benefits of these parks are no doubt what are keeping many of these remote communities, especially around Yellowstone, alive.
"Yellowstone welcomes people from across the country and around the world who contribute significantly to the local economies in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho," said Superintendent Dan Wenk in an NPS press release. "The economic benefits our neighbors enjoy are a direct result of preserving Yellowstone's abundant wildlife, spectacular thermal features, and dramatic scenery. As we look to the future, preservation has to be the key value we consider as we address increasing visitation. Protecting the park also protects the regional tourism economy."
Sounds like another good reason to go out and visit another National Park to us!