Pennsylvania’s State Parks Generate $1 Billion in Local Economic Activity, Support Jobs

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Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan today released a new analysis showing visitors to Pennsylvania’s State Parks generate more than $1 billion in economic activity in nearby communities and support almost 13,000 related jobs.

“Pennsylvanians get a great return on the investment they make in state parks. The report shows for every dollar invested, more than $12 is returned to Pennsylvania’s economy,” Allan said. “Connecting communities to our natural resources through their state parks generates significant local economic activity and helps build sustainable local economies.”

The study, conducted by Penn State University’s Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, was based on data from 2010, when state parks hosted about 38 million visitors.

“Especially in challenging economic times, Pennsylvanians turn to their parks for affordable, healthful recreation and relaxation,” Allan said. “Just as importantly, this analysis shows state parks also serve as economic generators in the communities that surround them, many of which are rural.”

State park visitors purchase firewood, food, boat rentals, bait and many other items in nearby communities. In addition, DCNR’s Bureau of State Parks has 145 private concessions that also provide goods and services to visitors.

These economic contributions were not only made by Pennsylvanians. Out-of-state visitor spending accounted for $274 million in sales in 2012.

“That is new money coming directly to the commonwealth,” said Dr. Andrew Mowen, Penn State Associate Professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, who led the research.

The recent analysis is an update of an earlier Penn State study based on 2008 data that showed state parks generated about $818 million in sales and supported 10,500 jobs.

There are some great opportunities for things to do and see in state parks, including: running whitewater; seeing an old-growth forest; observing the darkest skies found on the East Coast; watching wildlife including eagles and elk; hiking hundreds of miles of trails; viewing fall foliage; attending thousands of educational and recreational programs; sunbathing on a Lake Erie beach; and climbing over rocks in a natural boulder field.

Click here to view the full report.

To plan a park visit or learn more about Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks, visit the DCNR website to find a park.