The Benefits Of Our State Parks

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
Amnicon Falls State Park, Superior, WI, photo by Michael Leland
Amnicon Falls State Park, Superior, WI, photo by Michael Leland

Wisconsin’s state parks are a wonderful feature of the state. Larry Meiller finds out about the economic and community benefits they also provide. [Originally broadcast on March 24, 2014]

Featured in this Show

  • Wisconsin State Parks Welcome 14M Visitors Annually

    There are many things that make Wisconsin a wonderful place to live. It might be hard to list them all and even harder to rank them, but it’s likely that close to the top of most people’s lists would be the wonderful state parks.

    A recent study shows that the state parks not only provide wonderful recreational opportunities, they also contribute more than $1 billion every year to Wisconsin’s economy.

    Dave Marcouiller, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that the 64 state parks and the additional outdoor recreation properties operated by the Wisconsin State Park System rack up about 14 million visits per year.

    That puts Wisconsin at the 16th highest in the nation in terms of visitation, according to Jeff Prey, a program and policy analyst for the state Department of Natural Resources and is responsible for the state park system planning, policy and development work across the state of Wisconsin.

    “We are a busy place, and we are busy year-round,” he said.

    Marcouiller said that the recent data looked at the breakdown of in-state and out-of-state visitors and the length of visits. The ultimate goal was to determine how much of an economic impact the state parks have.

    The 2011-2016 Wisconsin Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan is available online. Here are some of the summary points, as detailed by the La Crosse Tribune:

    • On average, individual trip spending of visitors to these state properties ranged from almost $41 per day (State Forests) to over $90 per day (State Trails)
    • During the recent past, the entire park system experienced an average annual visitation level of roughly 14 million visitor-days
    • Visitors to the Wisconsin State Park System have annual expenditure patterns that, in total, sum to more than $1 billion per year.
    • Non-local visitors who are not resident in the region containing these state properties infuse private sector stimulus that drives local economic impacts; in sum, the annual spending of these non-locals is estimated to exceed $580 million.
    • When combined, the local economic impacts of this private sector stimulus within these regions accounted for over 8,200 jobs and $350 million in income for residents of the state of Wisconsin.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Jeff Prey Guest
  • David Marcouiller Guest