Shutdown’s economic toll on parks: $76 million a day

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WASHINGTON — The partial government shutdown's toll on national parks can be measured in lost visitors, lost spending — and lost revenue to the federal government.
Lost visitors: 715,000 a day.
Lost spending: $76 million a day.
Lost revenue to the federal government, in the form of entrance fees and rentals: $450,000 a day.
And with the shutdown entering its 10th day, multiply those numbers by 10.
The numbers come from data compiled by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and are based on October 2012 government park attendance data and an analysis of economic impacts by Headwaters Economics.
"These figures are mind-boggling, and they only begin to capture the full economic shock" of the shutdown, said Maureen Finnerty, former superintendent of Everglades and Olympic National Parks. And it's not just federal employees and visitors feeling the pain, she said. Often, national parks support hundreds of hospitality jobs in surrounding communities.
Finnerty defended the National Park Service's controversial decision to close open-air parks and memorials. Opening the parks without putting rangers back to work would only enable "enabling looting, poaching, and vandalism," she said.
Almost 87% of the National Park Service's 24,645 employees have been sent home during the shutdown, which started Oct. 1 when Congress failed to enact a spending bill.
Among the parks feeling the biggest impact, according to Headwaters Economics:
•Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina and Tennessee): 257,534 lost visitors in first 10 days and $23.1 million lost visitor dollars.
•Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona): 120,000 lost visitors in first 10 days and $11.8 million lost visitor dollars.
•Yosemite National Park (California): 106,849 lost visitors in first 10 days and $10 million lost visitor dollars.
Follow @gregorykorte on Twitter.
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