Report Jan 25, 2010

Making Connections: Building a Healthy Future for Shenandoah National Park And Its Gateway Communities

Making Connections: Shenandoah (5.71 MB)

Drawing on economic data compiled by state and federal agencies, interviews with local residents and leaders, and a variety of research reports and assessments, this report outlines three findings:

Finding 1: Shenandoah National Park provides benefits for surrounding communities.

Shenandoah is an ecological core for the surrounding landscape and a source of economic benefit for nearby communities. The park provides clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, and a backbone of undeveloped land for the surrounding region. Tourism, recreation, and Park Service spending bring economic benefits.

Finding 2: Much of Shenandoah National Park’s appeal comes from the surrounding communities and landscape.

The surrounding landscape, farms, and small towns are a crucial part of Shenandoah’s visual appeal, and they help attract visitors to the park. Fish and wildlife that inhabit the park also depend upon areas beyond park boundaries. What happens outside the park affects the experience of park visitors and area residents.

Finding 3: Attractive places and quality of life are at a premium in today’s economy.

The attractiveness of the region’s communities and their surroundings is an economic advantage. Global economic trends drive this dynamic, as do growth of “transportable,” non-labor sources of income such as dividends and retirement payments, and improvements in communication technology that make it easier for people to live and work where they want.