Study reveals economic benefits created by Kansas national parks

02/27/2013 6:00 AM

02/26/2013 6:41 PM

A new National Park Service study shows the impact of tourism dollars spent in communities surrounding national park sites.

Using statistics gathered in 2011, the National Park Service said in a news release that $13 billion was spent nationally by 279 million park visitors in communities within a 60-mile radius of a national park.

In Kansas, those numbers include 17,893 visitors to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills spending $901,000 in the surrounding towns. Also, 3,500 visitors at the Nicodemus National Historic Site spent $133,000 in the surrounding northwest Kansas towns.

The information on the two parks was part of a study conducted by Michigan State University for the National Park Service. Visitor spending had a $30 billion impact on the national economy and supported 252,000 jobs, the report said.

The Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic in Topeka site had 16,886 visitors; Fort Larned National Historic Site 26,704 visitors, and Fort Scott 26,704 visitors.

“Our actual total visitors were closer to 44,000 people,” said Kevin McMurry, superintendent of the Fort Larned National Historic Site. “And that meant visitors spent $1.6 million in the nearby community…”

The study does not count the numbers of school children and other groups who visit park sites.

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