By Paul Fattig
Crater Lake National Park and Oregon Caves National Monument brought in more than $38.5 million in 2011 to communities in the region, according to a study released Tuesday.
The peer-reviewed spending analysis of national park and monument visitors was conducted by Michigan State University for the National Park Service.
Nationally, it found $13 billion in direct spending by 279 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park or monument.
The lion’s share of spending included 63 percent supporting jobs in lodging, food and beverage service, followed by 17 percent for recreation and entertainment, 11 percent other retail, 7 percent transportation and fuel and 2 percent on wholesale and manufacturing.
In Oregon, some 839,000 in 2011 spent about $56 million in communities surrounding national parks and monuments. The visitor destinations support 947 full-time jobs, the report noted.
In addition to Crater Lake and the Oregon Caves, the sites in Oregon include the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks.
Crater Lake drew 423,551 visitors that year who spent a total $34.7 million in communities surrounding the park, supporting 565 jobs, according to the report.
The Oregon Caves attracted 76,194 visitors who spent $3.85 million in local communities, it concluded. That spending supported 59 jobs in the local area, the study said.
All told, the two tourism attractions boosted the local economy by $38.5 million, the assessment found.
“The national parks in Oregon are great places to learn about America’s story,” said Chris Lehnertz, regional director of the National Park Service, in a prepared statement.
“We attract visitors from across the U.S. and around the world who come here to experience these parks and then spend time and money enjoying the services provided by our neighboring communities and getting to know all that this state has to offer,” he added.
For more information about national park facilities in Oregon, check out www.nps.gov/oregon.
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.