Advocates say more national parks would boost economy

Nov 30, 2011

More than 100 economists and academics have written a letter to President Obama, calling for more national parks as a way to help the economy.

Their research indicates that protected public lands help create jobs.

Ray Rasker, one of the people who signed the letter to Obama, heads up a nonpartisan research group called Headwater Economics. He studies how environmental quality affects economic prosperity, and he recently researched the Yellowstone area.

“When I looked at the economic performance, or growth metrics, and compare the greater Yellowstone area to Puget Sound or Silicon Valley or the Front Range of Colorado, which are really, really high growth areas, we outperformed all of them,” Rasker said.

Rasker and fellow economists say living next door to protected public lands is a major draw for employees, and that businesses that set up shop near national parks tend to thrive in part because of the high quality of life.

Rasker and his fellow signatories aren’t trying to drive extractive industries away from places like Wyoming; they simply want more protected areas in addition.