A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 281 million visitors to the nation’s 394 national parks had a direct spending impact of $12 billion in 2010.
This and other data are included in an annual, peer-reviewed, visitor spending analysis conducted by Daniel Stynes of Michigan State University for the National Park Service.
Across the U.S, local visitor spending added a total of $31 billion to the national economy and supported more than 258,000 jobs, an increase of $689 million and 11,500 jobs over 2009.
To download the report click here and then click on “Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010.”
The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.
All 397 national parks across the country will offer free admission from Jan. 14-16 to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to a press release.
“Dr. King led the fight to realize his dream of a nation free of discrimination, where every citizen was able to enjoy the inalienable rights promised to all Americans,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Dr. King’s story and those of so many others whose efforts changed our country are preserved in the national parks, places where history happened. I hope every American can take advantage of the upcoming fee free weekend and visit their parks to experience their history firsthand.”
A list of activities can be found at www.nps.gov., including snow shoe hikes, canoe trips, campfire programs, film festivals, battle reenactments and music jams.
The National Park Service will also waive admission fees on 14 other days in 2012 – National Park Week (April 21 to 29), Get Outdoors Day (June 9), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 29), and the weekend of Veterans Day (Nov. 10 to 12).
Having already grown accustomed to a dwindling budget in recent years, the National Park Service is now facing the prospect of a decade of across-the-board cuts starting at nearly 8% in 2013 plus a cap on discretionary spending that will be in effect from 2012 through 2021.
According to a report in the Flathead (Mont.) Beacon, this could mean shorter seasons at some national parks, staff reductions, deferred infrastructure maintenance, campground closings, reduced amenities and, perhaps, increased real estate development within park boundaries, among other cost-cutting casualties, according to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).
In Northwest Montana, it means unavoidable impacts – in some form – on Glacier National Park, which a state tourism official calls the region’s “main economic driver.” And the threat of cuts comes at a time when Glacier is experiencing soaring visitation.
“Across the park system, it is fair to say that superintendents will be forced to make tough decisions,” said John Garder, the NPCA’s budget and appropriations legislative representative in Washington DC.
In November, the NPCA released a report stating that in fiscal year 2011 the National Park Service had funding reduced by $140 million, including $11.5 million for operations. Since 2002, the report states, the agency’s discretionary budget has decreased from $3 billion to $2.6 billion in today’s dollars.
The NPCA is an independent organization established in 1919 to protect and enhance the national park system, according to its website, with headquarters in Washington DC, 25 regional field offices and more than 600,000 members and supporters.
The organization’s report arrives at a time when the nation is mired in debate over how to trim the federal government’s deficit. The Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted in August, calls for cutting the deficit by roughly $900 billion through caps on discretionary spending beginning in 2012 and ending in 2021. Those spending caps will affect the national park system.
The Budget Control Act also established a deficit-reduction supercommittee, which failed to meet its late-November deadline for devising a plan to trim the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. The committee’s failure means Congress now has a year to agree on its own legislation before sequestration takes effect in 2013, setting off a decade of automatic cuts.
If Congress fails, automatic 7.8% cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, including the National Park Service, will be implemented in 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office. After that, these programs will endure cuts between 5.5% and 7.8%t through 2021.
Garder says about 90% of national parks’ budgets consist of fixed costs.
“That means the superintendents have 10% control of their budgets,” Garder said. “You cut 8% and they have to make some deep and painful cuts.”
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Three key national park partners organizations joined to hold a first-ever strategic planning session on Nov. 1-2, which attracted more than 125 top National Park Service (NPS) leaders, conservationists, concessioners and park friends and fundraisers.
The planning session was the first of two jointly hosted meetings by the National Park Foundation, the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Hospitality Association. The second is the initial America’s Summit on National Parks, scheduled for Jan. 24-26, 2012, in Washington, D.C. Both meetings focus on NPS’ “A Call to Action” and planning for the 100th anniversary of the agency in 2016.
In addition to key members and staff from the groups, the strategic planning session participants included leaders from top national park friends organizations and nearly 30 NPS officials including Director Jon Jarvis, Deputy Director Mickey Fearn and other members of the agency’s National Leadership Council. The session charged the three hosting organizations with several tasks prior to the January Summit, including preparation of a statement of principles for adoption by all park supporters, planning for a campaign to help all Americans see the personal value of parks and a strategy for moving beyond conversations about the limited diversity of park visitors to actions.
America’s Summit on National Parks is an invitation-only event that will unite traditional park champions with new health, education and tourism supporters. The summit will include top national and bipartisan political figures from the Congress, from the current and past administrations, and other national leaders. A major theme will be the role of parks in the nation’s economy.
Lifetime passes to America’s national parks for senior citizens and Americans with disabilities are now available through the mail, according to a press release.
National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said the Senior Pass and the Access Pass will still be available at national parks, “But the option of receiving a pass by mail may better suit some people and any change that makes it more convenient to prepare to come to the parks is a change for the better. We want everyone to experience the amazing places in our care.
“National parks have a lot to offer,” continued Jarvis. “They are places to share with children, grandchildren, and other family members. They facilitate recreation and healthy living. Many parks, including Yellowstone, Shenandoah, and Denali, have trails that are accessible to people with limited mobility and to wheelchair users. We also have many accessible camping and picnic areas.”
The Senior and Access passes provide admission to, and use of, federal recreation sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees. Pass users also receive a 50% discount on some amenity fees for activities like camping and launching a boat. They are available to citizens and permanent residents of the United States age 62 or more or who have permanent disabilities regardless of age.
The “Senior” and “Access” versions of the America the Beautiful Pass – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – are good for a lifetime. The Access pass is free and the Senior pass is just $10. There is a $10 processing fee to receive either pass by the mail.
The Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park is one of three California state parks that will remain open — despite being slated for closure — thanks to an agreement reached by the National Parks Service (NPS) and California State Parks on Thursday (Oct. 6), the Eureka Times-Standard reported.
The agreement will allow the 31,261-acre park, which includes the Mill Creek Campground and Mill Creek Watershed, to remain open to the public. In addition, it’ll allow the Tomales Bay State Park and Samuel P. Taylor State Park to be operated by the National Parks Service. NPS will support normal day-to-day operations needed to keep the parks open.
Candace Tinkler, chief of interpretation for NPS, said park operations will still be very dependent on the regular state park fees collected for camping and day-use services.
”We’re hoping to be able to collect fees that will pay for the staffing we need to do the (every day) maintenance work,” Tinkler said.
No additional federal funding is available to help NPS keep the state parks open, so no major long-term infrastructure repairs are planned for the parks. Tinkler said the main goal is to keep the campgrounds open for visitors.
”There may be some of the lesser-used trails we may not be able to maintain as well,” Tinkler said.
The Mill Creek Watershed will remain under the state’s control, but Tinkler said the two different park associations are used to sharing responsibilities for forested areas.
”We have this flow between the two, where we work together all the time anyway,” Tinkler said.
She said the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park has received support from various different entities to help keep it open, and that she’s had customers pleading with parks personnel to keep the Mill Creek Campground open. While it’s a lesser-known campground, Tinkler said it’s been growing in popularity.
”It’s tucked down there in that secret valley,” Tinkler said about the campground. “It’s a short drive to come into Crescent City and visit the beach.”
Both park services have agreed to try the arrangement for one year, after which they’ll decide whether they want to continue the partnership.
The National Park Service (NPS) unveiled A Call to Action Thursday (Aug. 25) identifying four key themes and 36 actions to ready the agency for its 100th anniversary in 2016.
The plan commits the agency to connecting people to parks, strengthening local economies and encouraging organizational innovation within the NPS. The release came on Founder’s Day and the 95th anniversary of the creation of the agency.
The four key themes of A Call to Action are:
• “Connecting People to Parks”
• “Advancing the Education Mission”
• “Preserving America’s Special Places”
• “Enhancing Professional and Organizational Excellence”
NPS Director Jon Jarvis outlined the plan and a new emphasis on communications internally and with the agency’s key partners at a national town hall held in the historic Ford’s Theater in downtown Washington, D.C. The town hall was broadcast nationwide to NPS employees and partners.
To read the rest of the story, visit www.funoutdoors.com.
RVers and others already staying at campgrounds and National Park Service accommodations will be given 48 hours to move out should the federal government shut down tonight, the RV News Service reported today (April 8), citing the about.com website.
If there is a federal shutdown, not only will visits to parks themselves be curtailed, even planning for future visits will go on hold, the news service reported.
RV News Service staff interviewed a National Park Service (NPS) spokeswoman this morning and were told that parks will definitely close their gates if there is a federal shutdown. Additionally, all NPS operated websites will go dark, as website and park access are both considered “non emergency services,” which are the only services available should federal operations close up.
“The spokeswoman also said that an official media release has not yet been made available, and it’s not even clear when one will be forthcoming. Nevertheless, it is clear that if the looming shutdown becomes reality, it will put a kibosh on any plans for the annual celebration of parks, National Park Week. While many look forward to the annual celebration, which would include free access to the parks from April 16 through the 24th, a shutdown will shutout any free access,” the news service stated.
Meanwhile, just announced today, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and the Japanese Street Festival, scheduled to take place on Saturday in Washington, D.C., will not be canceled, the about.com website reported. The DC police have agreed to support these popular scheduled events. The parade route will be altered, affecting some of the grandstand viewing areas and ticketholders. More information to be announced. The status of the Blossom Kite Festival will still be determined in the event of a government shutdown.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today (Jan. 5) announced that the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 selected dates throughout 2011 and encouraged all Americans to make a New Year’s resolution to visit a national park this year.
“Many people have made resolutions to spend more quality time with loved ones and to get outdoors and unplug in 2011,” said Secretary Salazar in a news release. “There’s no better place than a national park to help keep those resolutions. Parks offer superb recreational opportunities, making them perfect places to enjoy our beautiful land, history and culture, and nurture a healthy lifestyle.”
Salazar noted that with 394 national parks throughout the country, most Americans live within a few hours of a park, making them places for easy and affordable vacations any time of the year.
“In these tough economic times, our fee-free days will give families many opportunities to enjoy our nation’s heritage and natural beauty in meaningful and affordable ways,” he said.
The 2011 fee-free dates will be the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15-17), National Park Week (April 16-24), the first day of summer (June 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24), and the weekend of Veterans Day (Nov. 11-13).
“Visitors can literally walk in Dr. King’s footsteps at national parks such as Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. “They are just a few of the dozens of national parks which trace the history of African Americans.”
“Several parks will also honor Dr. King by hosting volunteer projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 17,” added Jarvis. “It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a day on, not a day off.”
Many national park concessions will also offer discounts on fee free days, saving visitors money on food, lodging, tours, and souvenirs. More information is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.
Again this year the National Park Service will offer fee-free days, allowing visitors to check out the nation’s 391 national parks without paying an admission fee, according to a news release.
The first fee-free days are scheduled for April 17-25, National Parks Week 2010. Information on additional fee-free periods will be released later this spring.
Many park partners, including tour operators, hotels, restaurants and gift shops, plan to enhance the fee-free periods by providing discounts and special promotions to sweeten the deal. Fees for activities such as camping, tours, or concessions are not affected by the entrance fee waiver.
There are 147 parks that normally charge entrance fees ranging from $3 to $25, and 244 national parks never charge entrance fees.
For more about national parks, visit www.nps.gov.