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Jul 25, 2014 1:16 PM by Faye DeHoff

National parks help support Cochise County economically

COCHISE COUNTY - National parks in Cochise County are not only bringing in visitors, but millions of dollars and jobs.

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 141,665 visitors to the three parks in Cochise County spent $7,907,200 in communities near the parks in 2013. That spending supported 104 jobs in the local area. The NPS sites in Cochise County are managed as the "Southeast Arizona Group" and include Chiricahua National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, and Fort Bowie National Historic Site. Visitors to these three sites spend time and money, and help create jobs, in the surrounding cities and towns including Sierra Vista, Douglas, Safford, Bisbee, and Willcox, as well as in the communities of Hereford, Palominas, Pearce, Sunsites, Elfrida, and Bowie.

"The three Southeast Arizona Group parks are proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world," said Acting Superintendent Matt Stoffolano. "We are excited to share the story of these places and to use the parks as a way to introduce visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy - returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service - and it's a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain a number of local communities."

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by US Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the NPS. The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.

According to the 2013 economic analysis, the highest spending was on lodging (30.3 percent), followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent). The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

To download the report, visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm. The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Arizona and how the National Park Service works with Arizona communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/arizona.

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