New NPS Report Shows Importance of Passing Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act

New report details popularity of National Parks, importance to the economy as the Senate considers Gardner’s legislation to address maintenance backlog

Washington, D.C. – Today the National Park Service (NPS) released a new report highlighting the popularity of our National Parks and the significant contributions they make to the economy, as the U.S. Senate is considering the Great American Outdoors Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). Their bipartisan, landmark conservation bill would fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the approximately $20 billion maintenance backlog on federal public lands, creating thousands of jobs in Colorado.

“This report shows what every Coloradan already knows to be true – our public lands and our National Parks are a crucial part of our economy and we must ensure they are receiving the resources necessary to keep up with their popular demand,” said Senator Gardner. “Right now the Senate is considering my bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, which would address the growing backlog of deferred projects and create economic opportunity at a time when we need it most. In addition to creating thousands of jobs in Colorado and more than 100,000 nationwide, the Great American Outdoors Act will protect our treasured lands for generations to come.”

According to the NPS, in 2019 there were more than 327.5 million recreation visits at the National Park System. Visitors spent an estimated $21 billion in surrounding communities, contributing to 340,500 jobs and $41.7 billion in economic output. Visitor spending increased by $800 million from 2018 to 2019 and the overall effect on the U.S economy grew by $1.6 billion.

The full report from the NPS is available here.

Outdoor recreation is a significant driver of Colorado’s economy. In 2016, President Obama signed the bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act, introduced by Gardner and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), paving the way for the first state-by-state measures of the outdoor recreation economy. In 2019, the first report was released and showed that outdoor recreation contributes more than $11 billion to Colorado’s economy, makes up 3.3 percent of GDP, and is responsible for 5.3 percent of jobs statewide.


Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.