National Parks Are Worth $92 Billion to Americans

A day at a national park with your family and friends might be priceless to you, but these natural treasures have a quantifiable value to the U.S. government: $92 billion, according to a new report from the National Park Foundation. To put that in perspective, that’s greater than the annual GDP of Ukraine or Sri Lanka, which are $90.52 billion and $82.1 billion, respectively.

Of the park’s $92 billion value, $62 billion is the estimated value that Americans place simply on knowing that the protected lands, waters and historic sites exist and will be available for future generations. The remainder of the value, $30 billion, is derived from the parks service’s educational programs aimed at conservation and stewardship of historical sites.

Since the public technically owns the national parks system, the researchers estimated its economic value by calculating how much people would pay to preserve it. They found that the average U.S. household would pay $523.86 in order to prevent the parks system from selling off land. That’s good news for the National Parks Service, which has been struggling to come up with the cash to fund $12 billion in infrastructure improvements.

Luckily, most Americans are willing to back up their love of the National Parks Service with cash. About 80% of survey respondents said they would be willing to pay higher federal taxes to fund the protection and preservation of the national park system, while 14.7% said they don’t benefit directly from National Parks and just 6.2% said the U.S. government should sell off some of the parks.

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