Posted by Scott Bolthouse The Huron Hub Oct. 14, 2020
The 13 parks in the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system in Southeast Michigan generate more than $90 million in direct visitor spending each year, a new study by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) says.
In addition, millions more in other economic, environmental and health benefits are felt each year across the five counties and hundreds of communities the parks system serves.
The TPL study is the first study the organization has completed in Michigan.
TPL emphasized the value that the public lands and outdoor recreation activities hold during times like the coronavirus pandemic that crippled the state in Spring and early summer.
“We’ve seen people flock to outdoor spaces during the pandemic and we can all agree the substantial benefit that has provided just this year alone. This report helped us understand and quantify just how much these amenities, and access to them, benefit and matter to our communities and residents, now more than ever. The parks have incredible power to help improve our health and wellbeing and safely connect us with nature and each other, as well as bolster our local and regional economies,” said Amy McMillan, Director of the Metroparks, which commissioned the study. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to protect, preserve and enhance this regional treasure.”
TPL researchers and economists found that the Metroparks provides seven categories of major economic benefit throughout Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. All were calculated using the most recent data and conservative methods available to ensure the most reliable report. These categories are:
- Generating substantial recreational value
- Enhancing property values
- Boosting economic development
- Providing healthcare cost savings
- Attracting and retaining visitors/tourists and talent
- Reducing stormwater management costs
- Improving air quality
According to Jennifer Plowden, a senior conservation economist at The Trust for Public Land and the report’s lead author: “Our research unequivocally shows that the Huron-Clinton Metroparks are strong, smart investments, which provide significant returns to local residents, communities and businesses throughout the region. We hope that this demonstration of the enormous value of parks will encourage health advocates, business leaders and policy makers to continue to support their parks.”
Plowden pointed to the following key economic impact findings of the Metroparks study:
- $92.4 million. The amount of annual direct spending by visitors to Metroparks in local communities and the tourism economy. Beyond being home to the parks, trails, facilities and programming that attracts visitors, the system hosts a variety of events, including fireworks shows, national fishing tournaments, marathons, farm festivals, outdoor concerts, and more.
- $68 million. The overall amount nearby residential property values are raised, providing value to local homeowners.
- $62.3 million. The Metroparks value of recreation ($32 million) and health benefits ($30.3 million) to residents annually. Popular activities include picnicking, visiting with family and friends, visiting playgrounds and beaches, walking, hiking, biking, paddling, taking photos, and observing wildlife.
- $1,250. The health care savings each year of an average adult by being physically active in the park system. Those savings are doubled for those 65 and older.
- $30.3 million. The amount of savings to the community due to Metroparks reducing storm water and contaminated runoff.
- $2.25 million. The amount air pollution costs are lowered annually due to trees and vegetation in Metroparks.
- $678 million. The total sales generated by 272 sporting goods stores in the region. This spending on recreation equipment, which is supported by but not exclusive to Metroparks, helps provide industry specific jobs (3,180 employees) and propel economic impact and development.
The Trust for Public Land has measured the economic benefits of parks and trails across the country, from Los Angeles, California and Colorado Springs, Colorado to the Metroparks Toledo, Ohio most recently.