National Park Service 2006 Public Use Statistics Released - Downward Trend in Recreation Visits Continues

(Washington, DC) - The National Park Service (NPS) reports that units of the National Park System received 272.6 million recreation visits in 2006, representing an overall 0.3% decline, or 0.9 million fewer visits than in 2005. This continues a downward trend which began after 1999 when visitorship peaked at 287.1 million recreation visits, according to Tom Wade of the NPS Public Use Statistics Office.

The Alaska Region experienced the sixth year in a row with an increase in recreation visits (4.5%). The Southeast also saw a modest increase of 1.5%. The National Capital Region was the only other region showing an increase in recreation visitorship (2.0%), but the NPS attributes this to a first-time counting of 2.2 million participants in the Cherry Blossom Festival.

All of the other regions experienced a decline in recreation visits in 2006. The Midwest led with a 5.0% decline, but the Pacific West Region had the steepest decline in actual numbers - with a decrease of 1.3 million visits. The Intermountain Region’s annual recreation visits decreased for the eleventh time in the last thirteen years. The Northeast region shows the smallest variation, with a decline of just 0.2%.

American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall said that ARC will continue to work vigorously with its recreation community partners and the National Park Service to develop strategies for reversing the continuing decline. "The issue isn't numbers of visitors -- it is that the national park system has the potential to provide more Americans with more benefits and more memories while still being protected for future enjoyment," said Crandall.

To see the NPS report, “Public Use Statistics - 2006 Regional Report”, click here.