National Parks Shutting Down Costs Local Communities $76 Million Per Day

Matt Lee-Ashley is a Senior Fellow with the Public Lands Team at the Center for American Progress. Andrew Breiner contributed the graphics to this piece.

Budgewt Battle Shutdown

CREDIT: AP Photo/Steve Helber

Millions of tourists today are finding locked gates and closed roads at America’s national parks and monuments as a result of House Republicans’ demand that the federal government be shut down unless Obamacare is defunded, delayed, or repealed.

Not only are these closures disrupting people’s lives by forcing them to cancel weddings and vacations, they are dealing an immediate blow to the local economies that benefit from the 300 million visitors who come to national parks each year and who, together, help support America’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy.

The National Park Service put out a press release Tuesday noting that the government shutdown of national parks alone will result in total economic losses of $76 million per day to local communities. National parks provide economic benefits in a variety of ways, including tourists’ purchases of gasoline, food, lodging, and gear in “gateway communities” near national parks.

Additionally, Climate Progress analyzed the most recent National Park Service data on the economic impacts of national parks in every state, and found that the top ten states whose communities will lose the most money from the government shutdown of national parks are:
Click to see all 50 states.

As can be seen in the table, the states most affected by the closure of national parks and monuments include North Carolina ($4.4 million in lost economic benefits per day) and Tennessee ($3.4 million per day), which are home to America’s most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains, which sees more than nine million visitors per year.

The states represented by Republican leadership in Congress will also be hard hit. Ohio, for example, home of House Speaker John Boehner, is losing $310,000 per day. Virginia, home of House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, is losing $3.3 million per day. And California, home of House Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy is losing $8.5 million per day.

It’s also worth pointing out that Texas, home of Republican Senator Ted Cruz who spent 21 hours on the Senate floor railing against Obamacare last week, is losing out on more than $1 million per day by national parks in the state being closed.

Due to the government shutdown, the National Park Service website displaying the economic impacts of National Parks is currently unavailable. A cached copy of the study is available here.

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