Our national public lands play a vital role in supporting recreation, wildlife, health and increasingly the economy. While the economic role of protected lands is not the same in all places; protected lands play an important economic role.

Positive Economic Benefits

  • Following the March 2013 protection of Rio Grande del Norte, visitation to the area increased by 40 percent and Taos, New Mexico has seen a nearly $100,000 increase in tax revenue.
  • Visitation to Fort Ord has increased astronomically — from 40,000 visitors a year in 1999 to 400,000 since the national monument was established in 2012.

Public Support for Protected Public Lands

  • Polls show 3/4 of Westerners believe our public lands, including monuments, help attract high quality employers and good jobs to their state.
  • A majority of voters (79%) agree that public lands support their economy and enhance their quality of life.
    • Economists agree – in a 2011 letter, more than 100 prominent economists and Nobel Laureates stated that “national monuments [and other public lands] attract innovative companies and workers and are an essential component of the region’s competitive advantage.”

Generating Economic Growth 

National Monuments can serve as powerful engines for economic growth, in addition to their role preserving land for historic, scientific or ecological use, by providing a competitive advantage to rural communities.National parks and monuments help communities to diversify economically while increasing quality of life and recreational opportunities, making those communities more attractive to new residents, entrepreneurs and small businesses, and investment.

  • Regions surrounding national monuments have seen continued growth or improvement in employment, personal income and increased per-capita income.
  • Rural counties in the West with more than 30 percent protected public lands saw jobs increase by 345 percent over areas without
    protected lands.On average, non-metro western counties have a per capita income $4,360 higher for every 100,000 acres of protected lands.
  • Counties with protected public lands like national monuments have been more successful at sustaining property values, attracting high-wage employers, and securing entrepreneurial investment.
  • Additional tourism revenue to communities also increases local, state and federal tax revenue.

Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

National monuments provide opportunities for people to explore America’s outdoor heritage.

  • Americans spend $646 billion each year on outdoor recreation (hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor recreation). This directly supports 6.1 million jobs and generates nearly $80 billion in tax revenue. (Source: Outdoor Industry Association)
  • National parks are visited by nearly 300 million visitors annually. National parks show a strong return on federal investment supporting nearly $27 billion in economic activity and nearly 240,000 jobs each year. Every dollar invested in park operations leverages about $10 for local communities. And every two Park Service jobs yield one job outside the park.