HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy

Abstract

This paper presents the first-ever comprehensive estimate of the total economic value of the National Parks Service. The estimate covers administered lands, waters, and historic sites as well as NPS programs, which include protection of natural landmarks and historic sites, partnerships with local communities, recreational activities and educational programs. Our estimate of the total economic value to the American public is $92 billion. Two-thirds of this total ($62 billion) is for National Park lands, waters and historic sites; the remaining $30 billion is attributed to NPS Programs. The estimate, which is based on very conservative assumptions, includes not only the value attributed by visitors to the parks, but also a significant “non-use” or “existence” value. This is the value derived by the public from simply knowing that NPS assets are protected for current and future generations, regardless of whether or not they actually choose to visit.

Citation

Haefele, Michelle, John Loomis, and Linda J. Bilmes. "Total Economic Valuation of the National Park Service Lands and Programs: Results of a Survey of the American Public." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP16-024, June 2016.