Economic Benefits of National Monuments
There’s been a lot of talk lately about National Monuments and funding. There hasn’t been a whole lot said about the economic benefits of having National Monuments, however. Math is a really cool thing, in that, it doesn’t care about what party you affiliate with or your opinions on budgetary priorities. Through arithmetic, we see that having National Monuments is actually a monumental blessing for our economy.
“After New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was created in 2013, visitation to the area increased by 40 percent in the first year alone.
Since gaining monument status in 2012, Fort Ord, Calif., has experienced an impressive growth in visitations–from 40,000 visitors a year in 1999 to nearly 100,000 currently.” – The Wilderness Society, 2015
An increase of outside visitation equals new revenue. Localities who suddenly find themselves nearby a newly designated national monument find that meeting their budgetary needs are much easier. Anyone who has worked in or around local governments know that meeting budget is nearly impossible without making serious cuts to important government functions. Rather than increase taxes or propose levies, etc, you now have a massive inflow of new revenue.
Outside Visitors = Outside Money
Communities within 60 miles of a national park support’s 252,000 jobs, the Outdoor Industry Association reported. Visitor spending reached $30 billion on the entire U.S. economy.
On average, these localities realize tens of millions of dollars pour in from visitors to a National Park Service site. To any local government, that is worth serious consideration.
People go on vacation, play hard, and spend lots. The outdoor recreation industry is massive. Third only to outpatient health care and financial services and insurance. It’s a whopper and national monuments provide access to that whopper to localities.
The special interests who want to see federal monuments handed over to states are the same ones who want to go into these localities, use up their resources, ship those resources halfway around the world to foreign markets. National monuments share the wealth and have a much longer view, which can make budgets predictable and allow for local governments and local businesses to flourish.
We have a choice.
We have a choice between a short-term rise in economic output followed by a devastating collapse, or a long-term economic boom that can continue to grow while also preserving our national treasures.
This is the first of many posts focused on the economic side of national monuments, I will be going deeper into this topic over the coming weeks and months.
- Source: The Outdoor Recreation Economy, a study published by the Outdoor Industry Association, 2012
- For more: The Wilderness Society