College of Education and Human Development
Groundbreaking Study Reveals Huge Economic Impact of Local Parks
December 7, 2015
For Paul Gilbert, executive director of NOVA Parks, there are “two big, giant numbers” to take away from the just-released study that details the impact of the nation’s local and regional parks: $140 billion in economic activity and 1 million jobs.
That is what local and regional parks generated in 2013, the latest year in which data was available, according to a first-of-its-kind study by George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis and the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).
“It’s a groundbreaking report,” Gilbert said. “We have factually, solidly researched data to support that parks are not only a great place to visit, but also impactful from an economic standpoint.”
(Gilbert is also Executive-in-Residence for the Recreation Management academic program within the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism, part of the College of Education and Human Development at Mason.)
Using NRPA’s database of 1,200 parks as a starting point, income streams were reviewed along with employment numbers and operational and capital spending. The data was correlated with the help of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Regional Input-Output Modeling System.
The study also examined the economic impact of local and regional parks in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“There have been studies that have been done about the national parks system, but this, to the best of our knowledge, was the first to look at local and regional parks on a national level,” said Terry Clower, deputy director of the Center for Regional Analysis and a professor of public policy at George Mason’s School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs.
“It was an important study for NRPA to better communicate the different types of value that local and regional parks have on national and regional economies,” Clower added. “They are an essential employer and contributor to regional and state economic activity.”
Interested in a degree in recreation management?
For students interested in studying recreation management, there are several options at Mason. You can: declare a major in Parks and Outdoor Recreation (BS in Health, Fitness, and Recreation Resources); earn a minor in Recreation Management; and/or pursue a graduate degree in Recreation Administration (MS in Sport and Recreation Studies).
The original version of this article was written by Damian Cristodero for Mason News.
George Mason University's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) includes two schools: the Graduate School of Education, one of the most comprehensive education schools in Virginia, and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism. CEHD offers a full range of courses, certificates, and degree programs on campus, online, and on site to more than 4,000 students each year. CEHD is fully accredited by NCATE, and all licensure programs are approved by the Virginia Department of Education. George Mason University, located just outside of Washington, DC, is Virginia's largest public research university.
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