Economic Impact of a National Park: Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Civil War Interactive’s news blog has an interesting piece on Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield and its impact on the local economy:

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that more than 185,000 visitors in 2010 spent $9.2 million at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield and in communities near the park. That spending supported more than 167 jobs in the area.

And keep in mind that within the Springfield, Missouri metro area, and specifically Republic, Missouri, those 167 jobs are indeed a big story.

Another point to keep in mind, Wilson’s Creek is a relatively “new” battlefield.  While created in 1960, the park itself was not designated until 1970.  Unlike other parks which have several generations of planning, if not back to the veterans themselves, Wilson’s Creek has perhaps two or three completed long range planning cycles.  In other words, the park is still evolving in some measures.

The article links out to the National Park Service page providing statistical reports.  One of which is the 2010 System Estimates.    I’ve seen the numbers from other years.  For good comparison while 14 million people drove the Blue Ridge Parkway that year, only 1 million visited Gettysburg – of course with the caveat that the Gettysburg visitor numbers are based on returned surveys as opposed to a gate count.  The estimates have 400,000 visitors to Antietam.  But think about this in perspective, people will divert through the Blue Ridge Parkway while traveling to a destination.  On the other hand Antietam is often “A Destination” if not the destination for those transiting the parkway.  So before we go putting ribbons out for the most popular parks, there is some perspective to consider.

Lots of data to “cube” within that report.  But I don’t need a detailed analysis to conclude our National Park Service is a valuable asset – from more than an economic perspective.