WASHINGTON --Recreational activities on national forests and grasslands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy, according to a report by the U.S. Forest Service.
The National Visitor Use Monitoring report indicates that national forests attracted 170.8 million recreational visitors and sustained approximately 223,000 jobs in rural communities this past year.
"This data shows once again just what a boon our forests are to local economies," said U.S. Forest Chief Tom Tidwell.
"Our national forests are some of the most beautiful and adventure-filled places in the world," Tidwell added. "The national forests give Americans a chance to build life-long memories for the price of food and gas. You'd be hard pressed to find any vacation destinations that offer better value."
Researchers interviewed 44,700 visitors to the forests in 2010, ranging from commuters to wilderness trekkers. Overall, some 72 percent of those interviewed were in the forest for recreation.
According to the U.S. Forest Service's 2010 report:
- Recreation activities on National Forests and Grasslands sustain 223,000 jobs in the rural communities within 50 miles of the national forests and grasslands, where visitors purchase goods and services for their recreational activity.
- Visitors spend $13 billion directly in those communities within 50 miles of the national forests and grasslands.
- Visitor satisfaction is very high, with an overall satisfaction rate of 94 percent.
- Approximately 83 percent of visitors are content with the value received for any fees paid.
- Nearly 95 million visitors (over 55 percent) come to a forest to primarily engage in physical activity.
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