If you've ever wondered if the tax money the federal government sets aside for national parks is money well invested, wonder no more.
A story in Tuesday's Mining Journal penned by Staff Writer John Pepin should have provided an otherwise obvious answer: Yes.
Pepin wrote that a new National Park Service report shows 2.2 million people visited Michigan's four national park units in 2012, spending a total of $181.7 million in the towns nearby, which helped support a total of 3,221 jobs in those local areas.
The report reviewed the National Park Service's 141 units across the country, including Isle Royale National Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the River Raisin National Battlefield downstate.
The numbers are substantial. Pepin wrote in annual visitation to Michigan's four parks, Sleeping Bear Dunes had the highest with 1,531,560 visitors; followed by Pictured Rocks at 593,587, River Raisin at 50,667 and Isle Royale with 16,663.
In the number of jobs supported by park tourism, Sleeping Bear Dunes again topped the four Michigan parks with 2,818; followed by Pictured Rocks with 312; Isle Royale at 50 and River Raisin with 41.
Visitor spending at Sleeping Bear Dunes totaled $151.8 million in 2012; followed by 23.7 million at Pictured Rocks; $2.7 million at River Raisin and $2.5 million at Isle Royale, Pepin stated.
Without exception, these parks are cornerstones to local and regional tourism here and across the nation. They are certainly worth the investment.