Recent comments

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 2 hours ago

    "It is full of assumptions. The most blatant and erroneous of which is that people would not spend the money elsewhere if parks didn't exist."

    Many people wouldn't spend the money elsewhere in the United States. The report makes it clear that the parks are a large driver of tourism, both foreign and domestic. If we didn't have the sort of flagship parks that draw in foreign visitors, they would not be spending their money in the United States. And if we did not have parks like Virgin Islands National Park, for example, many domestic tourists might be spending their money in the British Virgin Islands instead.

    The tourism of the parks facilitates travel. They're not the only reason people travel within the country, but they are a big driver. Domestically if people weren't traveling, that is money that would not go to lodging (they'd be home), or restaurants (they can cook at home). And foreign tourist money just wouldn't enter our economy at all.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 2 hours ago

    Kinda like if the USFS didn't allow for the operation of a ski resort around Aspen, Telluride, Brekenridge, etc while maintaining large tracks of public lands around these areas, those poor real estate title exchangers wouldn't be able to reap in larger profits for overinflated prices for the private lands around these spots. Mainly, because the wealthy would spend their money elsewhere since many of these places would be of less value, especially if these mountains were turned over to mining companies, and thousands of subidivided lots, but hey.... Some just don't see the reality of any current situation, now do they? West Virginia is a good example of this compared to what you find in many areas of Colorado and Western Montana.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 2 hours ago

    No David, I think you are still missing the point. My point is that people recreate. Even if no National Parks existed, they would recreate, I do a camping/sightseeing road trip every summer. Sometimes I go to National Parks, sometimes I go elsewhere. If the NPs didn't exist, I wouldn't stop going on my road trips. I would still make those trips and still spend that money. The NPs haven't generated anything in my case. In fact, because it is far cheaper to stay in a NP campsite than a motel, I probably spend less when a NP is involved.

    Is the NP contribution to the economy zero? No. There probably is some stimulation in demand but you can't count every dollar loosly connected to a National Park as an incremental contribution.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 2 hours ago

    ecbuck...I see your point. What your saying is if for every dollar invested in something else besides the National Park System we may get more than $10 in return. But than we would have crappy parks.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 3 hours ago

    True, but the wealthy definitely drive those small mountain town resort economies and keep them somewhat afloat. Otherwise, they will just become another one of those rural impoverished areas where many residents dont even have running water to their homes.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 3 hours ago

    I had a conference at the Univeristy of Minnesota in June and made reservations to stay at the Arrowhead Lodge and the Kettle Falls Inn at Voyageurs NP. Due to severe flooding, NPS was forced to cancel my backcountry permit, so I skipped the park and just flew home after the conference, never spending any money at either business.

    My wife and I are about to meet her family for a week-long vacation in Edisto, S.C. She's never been to Shenadoah NP, so instead of driving straight through to Edisto, or maybe staying a single night somewhere, we're going to spend two nights at the Skyland Resort in Shenandoah.

    In September, my wife has a conference in San Antonio. Instead of flying home right after the conference, we're renting a car and driving to Big Bend NP, where we will be hiring a shuttle and renting watercraft from a local outfitter in order to float down the Rio Grande for two days.

    The list goes on and on. And in each case, without the National Parks, our money would otherwise be just sitting in our bank account rather than circulating through the economy.

  • Parks And Local Economies—Observations From Glacier National Park   5 days 3 hours ago

    If you don't like engaging in the outdoors, then yes, living around tourism based towns is not for the average joe. But, you can have a nice living in those areas if you know what you are doing. It's not for everyone, by any means.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 3 hours ago

    because the wealthy would spend their money elsewhere

    And non "wealthy" alike

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 3 hours ago

    Yes, David, people would spend elsewhere. The report assumes otherwise.

  • Parks And Local Economies—Observations From Glacier National Park   5 days 3 hours ago

    Besides working for a government agency or living off tourism, there's not a whole to do in areas near National Parks (at least out west). Growing marijuana seems to be the main alternative to earning money now that logging has been limited.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 3 hours ago

    ecbuck, I thought the point is; they would spend money elsewhere if the parks didn't exist not the other way around.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 3 hours ago

    ec, please show us some proof of that allegation.

    Lee - read the analysis. It is full of assumptions. The most blatant and erroneous of which is that people would not spend the money elsewhere if parks didn't exist.

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   5 days 3 hours ago

    John, once again, you spew facts like you pretend to have these absolute answers, when they are quite off. Over a million go up to Clingmans Dome every year, About a 1/3rd of a million go further than a 1/2 mile in the park, and around 2 million + go into Cades Cove every year. In fact Cades Cove would be in the top 10 of most visited spots in the National Park system. By the way, they do keep traffic counters and those stats are online too, and each time a car passes by those counters, it's clicked, and those hard numbers are out there. But, hey... do I need to show you where those are to? Since you seem to know everything there is to know about what's happening in the Smokies, i'm sure you already know these numbers, right?

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   5 days 3 hours ago

    Visitation figures for many areas are a very complicated question, especially for areas that have many possible entry points. Short of having someone physically count each person/vehicle entering the park (which is rarely feasible 24/7, even for areas that have an entrance station), at best all that can be hoped for are reasonable estimates.

    I'm guessing there's still a small staff in an NPS "statistical" office that oversees this effort. Twice during my career, I was working at a park when one or two of them spent several days in the area, doing spot checks and surveys to try to update formulas specific for that park, such as average # of people per vehicle, how many were locals just "passing through" vs. "recreational visitors," etc.

    To a large degee, perhaps these numbers shouldn't matter. Sure, a Yosemite or Grand Canyon clearly needs more funding than a small historical site, but these numbers (and changes up or down from year to year for a park) probably receive more attention than they deserve by those controlling the purse strings to decide whether a park (or the agency as a whole) deserves more or less funding.

    In my humble opinion, such variations + or (-) in visitation are only important if they indicage a major change in use of an area due to some significant factor, either internal or external to the park.

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   5 days 4 hours ago

    In the Smokies, Newfound Gap road is the most direct thoroughfare to NC so if someone drives from state to state, they are considered a National Park visitor. Therefore, if casino trafiic in Cherokee is up, then the Smokies gets to count it and subsequently ask the public for more money to subsidize the casino traffic or Dollywood splash country bonanza coming the other way. The majority of Smokies "visitors" never leave their vehicles and hardly even are aware they are in a National Park. Yet they claim 9 million. Just a numbers game, the proof lies in the fact that of that 9 million a paltry 69000 ever visit the backcountry in a given year. Yet the bulk of monies to the Smokies goes to roads and visitor centers along NF gap road etc.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   5 days 4 hours ago

    If anyone thinks that national parks are not paying their own way, come to Gatlinburg, TN, one of the gateway towns to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    Visitors spend on motel rooms, meals, trinkets and serious camping equipment and ice cream. And that includes me.

    Danny www.hikertohiker.com

  • Trails I've Hiked: Grinnell Lake By Boat And Boot In Glacier National Park   5 days 5 hours ago

    Jim, thanks for sharing. Great story. This is now on my "next time i am there list".

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   5 days 5 hours ago

    Wasn't there something written about this a while back? One of the issues is the difficulty of keeping track, and then there's the issue of what constitutes a "visit" (does driving through count as a visit, or do you have to do more?). Because the parks are so unique, I think the parks have leeway in determining what constitutes a visit, but one question might be if someone leaves and comes back, how many visits is that? For keeping track, I think in some cases they have to estimate. But there were also issues with things where they did have a way of keeping track. For example, I remember something where a counter of some kind had its battery run out, and so they had no way of knowing and therefore had to estimate or extrapolate somehow. I think there's a place where each park says how it estimates visitation, and that can provide more information or insight about where the stats come from.

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   5 days 6 hours ago

    How do they measure "visitation" on the GW Parkway? This is a major commuter thoroughfare with the vast majority of traffic visiting nothing. Are those commuters being counted as park visits?

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   5 days 6 hours ago

    While quite a few of the NPS visitation numbers are obviously "soft", some seem considerably inflated. For example, I am quite familar with both parks and am unable to believe that Olympic's annual visitation has actually been almost triple that of Mount Rainier in recent years. The parking lots at Rainier are far larger and I have never waited in a mile-long line to enter Olympic. Most Olympic attractions are also more than twice the driving time from local population centers in 'Pugetopolis' as Rainier.

    Both park's websites used to have links explaining their counting methodology, but I can no longer find them. Both used traffic counter figures multiplied by a persons/vehicle factor, which was then decreased by a percentage of 'Non-Recreational' visits. I think OLYM considerably undercounts non-recreational traffic where the US 101 loop passes through the park at Lake Crescent and the Kalaloch strip. They probably also count the same visitor vehicles multiple times as they turn up each spur road like Hurricane, Soleduc, and the Hoh. This may also occur at Rainier when a vehicle visits Paradise and Sunrise on the same day.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   5 days 6 hours ago

    Wow! The Park gets a 9 1/2 % cut. The S&P 500 hasn't seen that kind of annual profit margin in at least 20 years - if ever. Talk about "enormous profits".

  • Parks And Local Economies—Observations From Glacier National Park   5 days 6 hours ago

    No doubt the parks help their local communities. Whether this is additive to the economy overall or just draws business from other markets is still questionable But I am with you, their economic impact is not the reason for their existance.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   5 days 6 hours ago

    From the Labor Environment section(pg 37):

    "Two current collective bargaining agreements cover the Existing Concessioner’s employees: one with UNITE HERE! Union Local 19 of San Jose, California, (408) 321-9019, covering all service workers, and the other with the General Teamsters Local #386 of Modesto, California, (209) 526-2755), covering commercial drivers, mechanics, warehouse, and maintenance employees."

    Would these unions really want to have to negotiate with multiple entities operating various concessions in the park?

    Also, in the business opportunity document there are a lot of detailed projections for gross revenue for the various departments starting on page 19.

    http://concessions.nps.gov/docs/Prospectus/YOSE004-16/Prospectus%20Files...

    Gross receipts for the last 3 years were between $129-132M.

    http://concessions.nps.gov/docs/Prospectus/YOSE004-16/Prospectus%20Files...

  • Parks And Local Economies—Observations From Glacier National Park   5 days 6 hours ago

    . . . for those who unfortunately feel the need to validate the worth of parks in terms of economics, it seems pretty clear that these national treasures are also the not-so-little economic "engines that could."

    Nice encapsulation.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   5 days 7 hours ago

    the last figures I saw were the gross of roughly 125,000,000,

    And gross revenues means absolutely nothing. What was their net profit? What was their investment? You can't claim "enormous profits" without knowing those numbers.

    Our parks, just like the rest of the nations public infrastructure are a governmental responsibility, and we are not doing a very good job right now of taking care of it.

    I think you are confusing two issues. One is who can run the concessions better. In my mind (and apparently the NPS's) it is no doubt the private sector. The other issues is funding to maintain the assets (natural and man made) of the Parks. Indeed that is a federal responsiblity financially (though the work could be outsourced) and like you I would like to see more money going to the Parks. But that money has to come from somewhere. I believe it should come by reducing other programs that the Feds shouldn't be involved with in the first place not just raising the deficit or inflicting higher taxes. We need to get our budget in order.