San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance •  107 E. Hopkins St. Suite 121A; San Marcos, Texas 78666

The Loop


Parks: Not Just a Budget Line Item

From the National Parks Service October 2011 Newsletter: Conservation + Recreation

It can be easy these days to get caught up in the negativity of our sluggish economy. Everywhere it seems people are cutting back on spending. In such a climate, it becomes tempting for municipalities and states to look at their parks and say, “sorry, but maybe next year. ”

However, some folks would offer different opinions. Anne Schwartz in the Gotham Gazette argues that parks should not be ignored during economic downturns. Parks raise property values (hence property tax revenues too), offer free or inexpensive recreation, and provide public health benefits from exercise. Additionally, State park attendance has had a noticeable bump up during the recent downturn, which means visitors were putting money back into local economies by spending on food and gear.   
A State of Tennessee study finds that every $1 in its parks budget creates $17 dollars in direct expenditures. The Trust for Public Land has documented the dollar value returned by parks in a wide range of U.S. cities and counties.
Here at Conservation + Recreation, we celebrate all the ways in which people benefit from enjoying their public parks, rivers and trails.  But during an economic downturn, it’s timely to recognize the role these assets play as economic catalysts.   

Parks become an even more valuable resource during tough times.  Thinking of millions of families spending time together in a nearby park — and worlds away from the stresses of home — reminds us also that the benefits from parks aren’t merely financial. 

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