Perhaps you have seen articles that have mentioned the impact the recession has had on parks. Basically, more people are going to parks for recreation than ever before and funding for many park systems is threatened by shrinking government revenues.
Camping Blogger’s recent article “State Parks Still Under Pressure” really hit the mark. At a time when more than ever people need to recreate in nature for less expensive family fun and to find solace in the beauty of nature, thinking that parks are luxuries that should be stripped to meet budget targets is a big mistake.
But sometimes how much people love and need their parks is not enough of a reason to convince legislators to save parks from the chopping block. Fortunately there is yet another reason to keep parks thriving during economic downturns that should convince even the most cynical lawmaker – parks MAKE money.
For many years Virginia State Parks have published it’s annual economic impact figures. This is solely based on Tourism generated revenue to the local economies. Many of the rural local economies depend on the revenue created by state park visitors. Other impacts include local employment and purchasing goods and services from local businesses. The Trust for Public Land has released a new white paper that delves into the many areas that parks contribute to economic well being. “Conservation: An Investment that Pays” should be required reading for every local and state governing body.
In the case of Virginia State Parks and ONLY considering the Tourism impact, for every dollar the state provides to support our parks, the parks generate more than $9 in the local economy. During a recession, the parks are a special stimulus program that generate revenue and improve the well being of the citizenry. While I would certainly suggest more investment in Parks, it is important to note that keeping funding as is will continue stimulating the economy. But, cutting park budgets so they can no longer operate effectively will create a ripple effect in localities at the worst possible time.
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