Ecotourism Helping to Keep New Jersey Green - And in the Black
Latest Figures Show Ecotourism Brings In Over $1.2 Billion Annually
New Jersey’s 39 state parks and 11 state forests provide economic benefits amounting to at least $1.2 billion per year, according to a recent study by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The study, entitled The Economic Value of New Jersey State Parks and Forests, highlights that New Jersey’s parks and forests create almost 14,000 jobs, positively impact property values and provide enhanced public services like education.
“This study quantifies the importance of New Jersey’s state parks and forests as an asset to our
economy and underscores the necessity of maintaining our natural open space,” said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. “We get the best return on our investment by nurturing our parklands and forest resources.”
According to the study, New Jersey’s parks and forests annually provide $812 million in benefits from recreation and tourism and $228 million from the operating and capital expenditures for them. Additionally, the parks and forests produce benefits worth at least $140 million from ecosystem services - things like watershed and groundwater protection, flood control, water purification, wildlife conservation and biodiversity preservation.
“And that’s really just the half of it here in New Jersey,” said Hugh Carola, Hackensack Riverkeeper’s program director. “In addition to state parks and forests, there are over 210,000 acres of state Wildlife Management Areas, nearly 140,000 acres of federally-protected lands and thousands more acres of natural open space owned by counties, municipalities and private conservancies - all of it helping the economy as well as the environment.”
The soon-to-be-created Meadowlands Estuary Preserve is expected to generate a tremendous amount of indirect economic activity from the “ripple effect” that will spread as a result of increased consumer spending related to ecotourism in the region. The effect is pretty simple: when Preserve visitors purchase things like food, lodging and gas, the local businesses that provide those goods make money as do their employees and suppliers. Everybody wins.
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