Economic Impact of Oregon State Parks Tops $1 Billion per Year

 Heceta Head Lighthouse (Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.)

Heceta Head Lighthouse (Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.)

Visitors to Oregon state parks in 2016 contributed $1.1 billion to the state's economy and supported 16,000 full- and part-time jobs, according to a report released today by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).

The report, Economic Activity from Recreation Use of Oregon State Park Properties -- System Report, measures how communities near parks benefited economically from the 54 million-plus visits to state parks in 2016. Visitor spending supported 16,000 full-and part-time jobs statewide, equating to a combined salary of $550 million.

"The report clearly shows that Oregon's state parks are more than great places to visit, but also a vital economic engine for local economies across the state," said OPRD recreation planner Terry Bergerson.

OPRD's analysis of the report found that each dollar invested in the Oregon State Parks system generates $30.50 in related economic activity.

OPRD commissioned economist Eric White, a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, to prepare the report at a cost of $45,697 over a six year period. White analyzed survey responses from more than 18,000 visitors from 84 park properties. OPRD conducted the surveys from 2011-2016.

"We wanted to measure the economic benefits state parks bring to the state," said OPRD Director Lisa Sumption. "The findings are clear: when state parks succeed, so do Oregon communities. We want to keep it that way, so we continue to look at what we can do to improve visitors' experiences."

The report provides information by region and by park. Coastal parks had the greatest number of visits and slightly higher levels of average spending, accounting for about half of the total statewide spending.

Silver Falls State Park provided the largest economic boost, with 1.4 million visits contributing $58.4 million to the local economy. Fort Stevens State Park followed with $40.1 million, and Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site with $34.8 million.

"State parks are also an important side trip during many recreation outings," White said. "We estimate visitors spend about $245 million in local communities during those side trips."

Other key findings include:

>> Visitors spend an average of $25 for a day trip within 30 miles from home to $390 for an overnight camping trip more than 30 miles from home.

>>Visitors most often spend money on gasoline, groceries and purchases in restaurants and bars.

>> More than half ($619 million) of visitor spending across all state parks was generated by visitors who traveled more than 30 miles from home, and who stayed overnight on the property or in a nearby community.

The full report is available at http://bit.ly/OPRDRecreationEconomicReport.