Millions of national park visitors generate economic opportunities for gateway communities, spending money that creates jobs and income. See the trends for every national park service unit.
Through 12 states and the District of Columbia, the Great American Rail-Trail® will attract 25.6 million trips and generate more than $229.4 million in spending.
Trails in Lincoln, Nebraska have the potential to generate large benefits for trail users in terms of avoided medical costs. These benefits may significantly outweigh the per capita cost of trail construction and maintenance. However, due to simplifying assumptions made regarding both benefits and costs, the cost-benefit ratios are unreliable.
This study found that even in very rural places, developed trails provide valuable recreation opportunities for residents in addition to attracting new visitors and spending by non-locals. The results also suggest that trails contributed to increased community pride and a modest increase in activity levels, with few problems from crime or vandalism related to the trails.
This study found that, according to the residents closest to the trails, the Omaha trail system has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on neighborhoods’ quality of life. The positive effects are not constant across all trails and neighborhoods, though, and neighborhoods that saw the greatest benefit were constructed concurrently with the trails.
This study found that the benefits of trails in Indian Country may be more significant than in other communities that are less culturally or spatially fragmented, less politically and economically marginalized, or less culturally tied to the landscape. Trails can provide particularly valuable benefits to residents of Indian Country, helping to improve residents’ quality of life in several dimensions: connecting tribal members to each other and to culturally significant sites and natural resources; providing safe alternative transportation routes across the reservation; providing opportunities for safe exercise; and providing opportunities for economic development and cultural education.
This study found that three-quarters of trail users in Lincoln, Nebraska report being more physically active since they began using trails, most of whom are active for general health. The cost per user who is more active since they began using the trails is $98, less than other programs aimed at increasing physical activity.