California’s State Parks Generate $4.3 Billion Annually, Study Says

Last week, I wrote about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's dramatic proposal to close 80% of California's state parks to address the state's $24 billion budget deficit. I argued that this shortsighted plan defies logic from an economic perspective because parks are such a huge economic engine for local communities.  A new study reveals just how enormous that engine actually is. On Monday, researchers at the California State University at Sacramento announced findings that state park visitors spend $4.32 billion a year in park-related expenditures. These new numbers are simply astounding.  In other words, by investing $150 million a year in our state parks, California reaps a return of over 28 times its initial investment. There are numerous theories of which program cuts could balance California's budget, but it doesn't take a degree in economics to figure out that any program that repays its initial investment 28 times over is a program worth saving. California's parks belong to the people and should remain open to the people.