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Goal: Deliver Benefits to the Public Wilderness Areas Contribute to Economic Health of Rural Communities

View of mountains

View of Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness Area and Hangover Mountain. Photo by Chris M Morris.

Introduction

SRS scientist Tom Holmes and PNWRS scientist Eric White collaborated with Evan Hjerpe of the Conservation Economics Institute to estimate the economic benefits to rural communities that serve as gateways to U.S. wilderness areas. Research showed that nearly 10 million people per year visit wilderness areas and spend about $500 million in adjacent communities. Annual visitor expenditures generate about 5,700 jobs, resulting in over $700 million in total economic output.

Summary

Wilderness attracts tourists and generates visitor spending in nearby communities. Because wilderness areas are typically located in the most remote and inaccessible regions, income and jobs resulting from visitor spending contributes to local economies that may have limited alternatives for economic growth. New Forest Service research showed that nearly 10 million people per year visit wilderness areas and spend about $500 million in adjacent communities. Annual visitor expenditures generate about 5,700 jobs, resulting in over $700 million in total economic output. Maintaining the character and ecological health of wilderness areas are key management goals and, because of the relative permanence of this land use, wilderness areas support the economic sustainability of rural areas.

Principal Investigator
Thomas Holmes, Research Forester
RWU
4804 - Forest Economics and Policy
Strategic Program Area
Outdoor Recreation
Publication
National and community market contributions of Wilderness
Research Partner
Eric White, Pacific Northwest Research Station
External Partner
Evan Hjerpe, Conservation Economics Institute