Report: Utah gained $ by reopening nat. parks during shutdown

A new report shows Utah reaped a ten-to-one gain by paying to reopen the state's five national parks during the federal government shutdown last October. Photo courtesy of the Utah Office of Tourism.

SALT LAKE CITY – A new report shows the positive economic impact linked to Utah paying to reopen the state’s five national parks during the 16-day federal government shutdown last October. 

According to the National Park Service <a href=”″ target=”parent”>report</a>, the state gained a 10-to-1 return on $1 million it cost to operate the parks during the last six days of the government shutdown.

David Nimkin, senior regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, says the parks provide a huge boost for the economy.

“For every dollar spent in support of our national parks, it generates $10 in local economic activity both directly and indirectly,” he explains.

The report finds that overall visitation to all national parks in October was down 7.9 million people compared with previous years and cost the U.S. economy more than $400 million. 

Much of the economic bump is reaped at the restaurants, hotels and retailers located in communities close to the parks.

Nimkin says the political gridlock that led to the government shutdown likely caused some small businesses to shut down permanently. 

“It’s small businesses that are at risk, that are being hurt in rural parts of our state, is really adding injury to insult,” he says. “It sort of defies common sense.”

Nimkin adds he hopes the economic hardship caused by the government shutdown will serve as a lesson to politicians to show the harm that political gridlock can cause. 

Utah’s five national parks, also known as the Mighty 5, are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion.

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