National park economic impacts broken down | News

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National park economic impacts broken down
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MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A new report by the National Park Service could help the supporters who want a new national park in the Katahdin region.

The report, which shows the economic benefits from the national parks around the country, stated that 2.56 million people visited Acadia National Park in 2014, spending $221 million in the communities near the park. That spending generated around 3,486 jobs.

Supporters of the proposed national park said the park would not attract the same number of people that Acadia gets each year.

"We have lots and lots of guests in the summer that come and stay with us here at Twin Pine Camp, who have gone to Acadia looking for a type of Maine, they don't find on the coast. They want the large, contiguous forest, they want the beauty of a mountain, like Mount Katahdin, they want to look for moose. You'd be amazed at how many people go to Acadia, looking for moose. We find those people coming here and once they come here, they come back over and over again," said Matthew Polstein, a supporter of the proposed national park.

But supporters believe the park will get around 380 thousand visitors and generate between 450 to 1,000 jobs. With those numbers, the proposed national park was compared to other national parks with similar numbers.

Big Bend National Park in Texas had more than 314 thousand visitors last year, spending more than $27.2 million. With that amount of money being spent, an estimated 410 jobs were created. In New Mexico, more than 397 thousand people visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Those visitors spend more than $24.5 million, in turn crating 368 jobs.

Polstein did not know the estimated spending total if it became a national park. But he said the National Park Service report could be helpful in trying to convince those people on the fence. "They are trying to gather facts and the fact that this was independently done by the Park Service, and not done by supporters of a park in Maine, will be helpful. I think the credibility of the Park Service is significant in the fact that they've issued this report, showing just how important Acadia is to the state of Maine, will be helpful to us," he said.

Opponents of the proposed national park believe the park is not the answer to the economic drop left behind by the closure of nearby mills and that the jobs created will only be seasonal.


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