Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the federal government is about to embark on some of the most contentious budget negotiations in years. Because that’s the whole point of electing right-wing Republicans to congress while a moderately liberal lame duck Democratic president is finishing out his second term, right?
Eager to start exercising some power, the Republicans want to do what they’ve spent the last few decades calling for: wholesale, massive slashing of federal programs. “The two GOP budget resolutions envision deep spending cuts above $5 trillion over 10 years to get to a balanced budget,” the news site McClatchyDC reported on Apr. 20.
For anyone who needs federal money to survive, that’s bad news indeed. So I wasn’t at all shocked when, three days after the McClatchy DC story came out, officials with Haleakala National Park sent me a very nice press release linking to a new report that says our whole national park system is quite the tidy little money-maker.
“Haleakala National Park is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Natalie Gates in the news release. “We are delighted to share the story of this special place and the experiences it provides. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy–returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service–and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”
According to that news release, Haleakala National Park in 2014 has 1,142,040 visitors, who combined to spend more than $70 million in what park officials call “communities near the park.” Park officials further noted that such spending “supported 837 jobs in the local area” and trickled about $84 million down to the local economy.
The report itself noted that spending due to national parks in Hawaii in 2014 was nice but not nearly as high as that seen in states like California ($1.7 billion) or Alaska ($1.1 billion). Hawaii’s total ($340.5 million) was better than Maine ($220.8 million) but not as good as Montana ($432.1 million).
You can read the new national parks report at Nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm.
Photo courtesy Haleakala National Park