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National Parks Report: Nearby Towns Lost Nearly $500M In October Shutdown

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
File photo of an entrance to Mount Rainier National Park

According to a National Park Service report, towns around national parks lost an estimated $414 million during the partial government shutdown last October.

Most of the country's national parks locked their gates for 16 days. It was one of the most visible and immediate effects of the standoff over spending in Congress. Some states scrambled to find money to keep iconic places like Grand Canyon and Zion National Park open -- and to keep the tourist dollars flowing to hotels, outfitters, grocery stores and gas stations.

Thousands of tourists pass through Idaho Falls every year on their way to Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park -- which remained closed during the shutdown.

Michelle Holt of the area Chamber of Commerce says the region did take a hit, but at least at first, there was a positive side.

“People who had been planning additional time into the parks during that couple of weeks and then couldn't get in there, that meant they spent additional time in those bordering communities," she says. "Hoping that 'maybe tomorrow it'll be open and maybe we'll be able to get in.'"

Still, the National Park Service says the system lost out on nearly 8 million visitors and nearby communities lost nearly $500 million.

The agency also released 2012 figures on the total economic contribution from national parks, monuments and recreation areas. In Idaho, an estimated $30 million dollars was generated, in Oregon, it was $80 million; and in Washington -- home to three national parks -- it rang up at $530 million.