Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Valuing Our National Parks: An Ecological Economics Perspective

Version 1 : Received: 27 October 2018 / Approved: 29 October 2018 / Online: 29 October 2018 (07:11:30 CET)

How to cite: Sutton, P.C.; Duncan, S.L.; Anderson, S.J. Valuing Our National Parks: An Ecological Economics Perspective. Preprints 2018, 2018100661 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201810.0661.v1). Sutton, P.C.; Duncan, S.L.; Anderson, S.J. Valuing Our National Parks: An Ecological Economics Perspective. Preprints 2018, 2018100661 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201810.0661.v1).

Abstract

The annual budget for the United States National Park Service was roughly three billion dollars in 2016. This is distributed amongst 405 National Parks, 23 national scenic and historic trails, and 60 wild and scenic rivers. Entrance fees and concessions generate millions of dollars in income for the National Park Service; however, this metric fails to account for the total value of the National Parks. In failing to consider the value of the ecosystem services provided by the National Parks we fail to quantify and appreciate the contributions our parks make to society. This oversight allows us to continue to underfund a valuable part of our natural capital and consequently damage our supporting environment, national heritage, monetary economy, and many of our diverse cultures. We explore a simple benefits transfer valuation of the United States national parks using National Land Cover Data from 2011 and ecosystem service values determined by Costanza (et al). This produces an estimate suggesting the parks provide $84 billion / year in ecosystem service value. If the natural infrastructure 'asset' that is our national park system had a budget comparable to a piece of commercial real estate of this value, the annual budget of the National Park Service would be roughly an order of magnitude larger at something closer to $30 billion rather than $3 billion.

Subject Areas

national parks; ecosystem service value; natural infrastructure; natural capital

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