Parks Economics - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Parks Economics

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CODY, WYOMING -

 

The national parks give, the national parks take away. A National Park Service study says national parks in Wyoming pump 721 million dollars into the state's economy each year. 400 million dollars from Yellowstone alone. But, last year's government shutdown cost area businesses almost 25 million dollars.

When the federal budget sequestration threatened a two week opening delay last spring, Cody businesses raised one hundred thousand dollars to plow Yellowstone's East Entrance road. The state of Wyoming donated plows.

But, the government shutdown in October punished gateway communities anyway. The National Park Service report said Wyoming's tourism economy lost almost 25 million dollars. Cooke City Montana businesses feared permanent closures.

The Owner of High Country Motel, Brandon Richardson said, " My October reservations were 100% cancelled."

Cody Chamber Director, Scott Balyo said Tuesday, "Most of my members reported a 20 to 30 percent drop in business."

So, as the businesses prepare for the 2014 season, two months away, they don't want any more season interruptions.

Balyo explained, "I just like normalcy. Normalcy would be great this year."

Balyo said the Park is already plowing some of its' roads to open on time this year.

The Park County Travel Council collects nearly two million dollars yearly to advertise Yellowstone's East Entrance. The money spent on ads like one about Buffalo Bill in Audubon magazine.

PCTC Marketing Director, Claudia Wade explained, "Several years ago the Park County Travel Council made the decision to have our potential visitors better understand who Buffalo Bill was, and in doing that we created a campaign about what Buffalo Bill liked most about this area."

Wade said she wasn't surprised by the National Park study results. Wyoming did its own study in 2012. She says Cody's offerings are a compliment to the park experience.

But she said in the end, "We understand that Yellowstone and perhaps the Grand Teton are the final destinations of most of our visitors."

The President's 2015 budget includes a 2.6 billion dollar request for the National Park Service.