New Report Details Economic Benefits of Adding Mount St. Helens to National Park System

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   November 20, 2008
Contact:   Sean Smith, Northwest Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 206.903.1444 x21 or ssmith@npca.org


New Report Details Economic Benefits of Adding Mount St. Helens to National Park System

Seattle, Wash. – Today, the nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), applauded a report by the Steve and Kathy Berman Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Washington, which details the economic benefits of adding Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to the National Park System.

The report, released as the Mount St. Helens Advisory Committee hears final testimony in Stevenson, Wash., suggests that moving Mount St. Helens from the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service will lead to increased funding and visitation -- critical to ensuring that the monument continues to provide educational and scientific research opportunities for the public as mandated by Congress in 1982.

“Even during tough times, national parks such as Mount Rainier and Olympic are economic engines for their surrounding gateway communities,” said Sean Smith, NPCA Northwest regional director. “Given the difficult economic state of Cowlitz, Lewis, and Skamania counties, the University of Washington report shows it makes economic and ecological sense to add Mount St. Helens to the National Park System.”

According to the report, Mount St. Helens received approximately $3.26 per acre in federal funding from the U.S. Forest Service in 2007. In contrast, monuments within the Park Service received three to six times more funding on a per-acre basis than did Mount St. Helens in 2007.

Research from Colorado State University has found that elevating a monument to a national park increases visitation by at least 11,000 visitors.  According to the University of Washington, a conservative estimate of the economic benefit of new visitors to Mount St. Helens’ surrounding communities would be nearly $400,000 in new spending.  This economic surge would come just from travelers’ awareness of the new name of the monument, without a single dollar spent on new amenities or infrastructure.

“The designation of Mount St. Helens as a national park would provide clear economic value in the form of increased visitation to the site,” said James Pittman, managing director at Earth Economics in Tacoma, Wash. Pittman, who is not associated with the production of the Environmental Law Clinic report, and added, “Protection of healthy, intact ecosystems in national parks benefits our local economies.”

The report also suggests that nearby Fort Vancouver and Lewis and Clark National Historic Parks may also benefit from additional visitors if Mount St. Helens was designated as a national park.

To view the full report by the Steve and Kathy Berman Environmental Law Clinic, please click here.

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