National parks bring hundreds of millions to economy and account for thousands of jobs in Arizona, according to a new report by the U.S. National Park Service.
Nearly 4.5 million people visited the Grand Canyon National Park in 2012, injecting just under half a billion dollars into the economy and supporting 6,000 jobs. Tucson's Saguaro National Park drew more than 600,000 visitors, bringing $38 million and supporting 526 jobs.
The Park Service used a new methodology to compile 2012 figures, so comparisons with 2011 data are not possible.
The agency said it estimates last year's federal government shutdown caused a loss of more than $27 million in visitor spending at Arizona's parks. This was the second highest decline in the country, behind California.
During the shutdown, Arizona donated funds to temporarily reopen the Grand Canyon. The report showed that the state spent $465,000 to open the park for five days. But visitors injected more than ten times that into the local economy.
In a conference call Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell told reporters it’s possible that Congress may decide to reimburse the six states that reopened parks, but there’s no guarantee.
“There was not a promise to do so but there is legislation that is in process and Congress could decide to make the decision to reimburse states," she said.