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A Look At How Florida's National Park System Being Partially Shutdown Will Impact The Economy

National Park Service
A Great Egret stands on top of the Bobcat Boardwalk Trail in Shark Valley, which is a part of Everglades National Park.

Click here to view the interactive chart

More than a quarter of a billion dollars in economic activity was produced by national parks in Florida in 2017, according to the National Parks Service.  

While many national parks' gates remain open during a partial government shutdown, the sites are functioning with limited staff. 

Florida's national park system attracts millions of visitors each year and Florida Gulf Coast University's Department Chair of Economics and Finance, Shelton Weeks, said it may take some time for the economic impacts of the shutdown are seen.   

"In the short term, it’s probably a relatively mild marginal impact where we would likely be mitigated by people substituting other activities for the days they had planned to visit national parks," Weeks said.

Weeks said a tourist already in the area could easily spend money on another activity on a day that was originally planned to visit a national park, so the Florida economy still benefits.

The long term problem Weeks said he sees with the shutdown and parks functioning at limited capacity is that people who were motivated to visit Florida may put off their trips until everything is back to normal.

“Its not just going to be the revenue that’s lost associated with the park, but that it will have at least to some degree of a negative impact  in terms of a multiplier across the region”

While exactly how the partial shutdown will impact the intricate web of tourist dollars being spent on lodging, food and other activities is yet to be seen, Don Finefrock, from the South Florida National Parks Trust said the parks will be negatively impacted for a long time.

“During the shutdown there’s nobody at the entrance station to collect fees so all of that money is being lost and the parks won’t have that revenue going forward,” Finefrock said. 

Finefrock said entrance fees are used for park projects but in light of the shutdown, NPS announced in a press release it will be using funds from entrance fees to pay some staff members to help with park maintenance.  

An interactive breakdown of the economic activity produced by each of Florida's national parks in 2017 can be found here.


Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.