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.
West North Central
Communities need resilient revenue strategies to fund the long-term costs of capital improvements and infrastructure.
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.
This study in Minneapolis, Minnesota, finds that commuting rates by bicycle increased substantially between 2000 and 2010 once 10 miles of paved paths separated from roadways were created. Using careful statistical methods, they show that neighborhoods closest to the new paths and with the most commuting routes crossing the paths had the greatest increases in bike commuting rates.
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 walking trails in rural, southeastern Missouri communities are associated with the greatest increase in exercise for those most at risk of inactivity, particularly those who were not already regular walkers, have a high school education or less, or who earn less than $15,000 per year. Trails that were at least a half mile long, paved, or located in the smallest towns were associated with the largest increases in exercise.
This study found that cyclists in Iowa, including those who ride for recreation and to commute to work, contribute substantial spending associated with commuting and cycling trips within the state. The physical activity from cycling is associated with as much as $354 million lower annual health care costs due to fewer cases of heart and lung disease, and other diseases associated with less physical activity.
This study found that snowmobiling is popular among Iowa households. However, snowmobiling’s economic impact in the state is relatively low because two-thirds of residents’ trips are taken in neighboring states and less than 1 percent of trips in-state are taken by out-of-state residents.
This study found that walkers and hikers, while they have fairly low per-trip spending, generate nearly two-thirds of the total economic impact from trails-related recreation in Minnesota because many people participate and they participate often. Motorized recreation – both summer and winter – has the highest individual expenditures per trip.
This study found that snowmobiling is a popular activity in South Dakota, and is associated with substantial spending each year. One area, the Black Hills, is a destination that draws resident and non-resident users, is highly-rated by all users, and generates substantial economic impact. The East River area, although more extensive, is not a destination, has lower user satisfaction, and generates less economic impact.
This study found that residents of Cook County, Minnesota, a destination for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, see both activities as having a significant positive impact on the local economy. However, some residents are willing to have less local spending in exchange for fewer conflicts with residents and other user groups.
This study found that while Minnesota snowmobilers spend a large and growing amount of money each year (nearly $200 million in 2004). However, less than half of that spending occurs at destination sites. Efforts to shift spending on expenses such as equipment and fuel could increase snowmobiling’s economic impact, particularly in rural destinations in northern parts of the state.
This study found that across three communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, water trails have created a destination for non-local paddlers interested in multi-day trips. Communities are able to capture this economic opportunity only if businesses are immediately on the water or easily accessed via trail or shuttle, and if there are businesses that cater to paddlers, such as restaurants, lodging and camping, and shuttle and rental services.
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 the average respondent rides on Minnnesota’s state-maintained horse trail system 33 days per year. Three-quarters of all trips are taken within 30 minutes of home, suggesting that the primary benefits from horse trails in Minnesota are in the enjoyment people derive from using trails close to home rather than in attracting non-local visitors.
This study found that those commuting by bicycle are willing to go out of their way to use a safer route, with the largest detour for on-street, designated bicycle lanes, followed by routes without parking and routes with an off-street bicycle lane. The effect of these bicycle facilities on property values is mixed, depending on the type of facility and whether it is in an urban or suburban neighborhood.
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.