By Sarah Plummer
A report released Monday by the National Park Service reveals that mandatory budget cuts under sequestration if Congress fails to act before the March 1 deadline would greatly affect local communities and businesses that depend on the income generated from visitors to national parks.
Robin Snyder, public information officer with the New River Gorge National River, said the new National Park Service report for 2011 shows that the 1,226,000 visitors to New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area spent $53 million in communities surrounding the park.
This spending supports 717 jobs in the local area, she said.
“The National Parks of southern West Virginia are a wonderful place to learn about America’s story,” said Deputy Superintendent Debbie Darden. “We attract visitors from across the U.S. and around the world that come here to experience the park and then spend time and money enjoying the services provided by our neighboring communities and getting to know this amazing part of the country.
“The National Park Service is proud to have been entrusted with the care of America’s most treasured places and delighted that the visitors we welcome generate significant contributions to the local, state, and national economy.”
The report showed that nationwide, visitor spending had a $30 billion impact on the entire U.S. economy and supported 252,000 jobs across the United States.
To download the report visit www.nature.nps. gov/socialscience/products.cfm#MGM and click on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation, 2011.
— E-mail: splummer@ register-herald.com