When parks close, towns lose

  For Nevada fishing guide Jim Goff, who works at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, last winter's government shutdown cost him a lot of money. "The first week they closed down, I had charters booked every day. I lost $1,200," says Goff. Goff's experience as a result of the 26-day shutdown was not unique. A recent 35-page report by the National Parks and Conservation Association says small communities suffered big losses near nine national parks in California, the Colorado Plateau and south Florida. Congress' closing of Yosemite National Park, for example, caused $8.9 million in losses in and around the park, plus up to $10,000 a day in county tax revenue. Nationwide, the shutdowns cost park-dependent communities an estimated $14 million a day. Restaurant managers, hoteliers, small-town mayors and local tour guides said they understood all too clearly their economic reliance on parks, and some expressed bitterness about missed income. Referring to nearby Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County staffer Mike Coffield said, "We're really a one-company town."

For a free copy of Effects of the 1995-1996 Government Shutdowns on Selected Park-Dependent Businesses and Communities, call 800/NAT-PARK or check online at npca.org.