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Report details importance of national parks to Bay Area

17 million visitors to nearby national parks in 2012 aided local economy

A study released Monday by the Department of the Interior and the National Parks Service details the economic benefits the Bay Area's national parks have on the communities around them.

In 2012, there were 17 million visitors to the Golden Gate National Parks comprised of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, Fort Point National Historic Site and Muir Woods National Monument.

Visitors to those parks spent $471 million in communities near the parks, and that spending supported 5,300 jobs in the local area, mostly in the retail and hospitality industries, according to the report.

There were 2.4 million visitors to the Point Reyes National Seashore in 2012, and visitors spent $98 million that supported 1,100 jobs in the local area.

"The Golden Gate National Parks, with 17 million visitors, are the most visited in the National Parks System," Golden Gate National Parks General Superintendent Frank Dean said.

"National parks like Point Reyes are not only good for the soul, they are good for the economy," Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent Cicely Muldoon said.

National park tourism returns $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, Muldoon and Dean said.

Nationwide, more than 280 million people visited national parks in 2012, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Parks Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said.

Those visits supported 243,000 jobs in local communities and generated $26.75 billion in economic activity, according to the report.

Most visitor spending supported jobs in restaurants and grocery and convenience stores, 39 percent, hotels, motels and bed and breakfast inns, 27 percent, and other amusement and recreation, 20 percent.

There were 7.88 million fewer national parks visitors and a $414 million decrease in visitor spending in local communities during the 16-day federal government shutdown in October compared to the three-year average between 2010-2012, according to the report.

— Bay City News Service

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