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The economics of creating national monuments

Mt. Rushmore, in Keystone, South Dakota. President Obama is expected to name five new national monuments on Monday. In addition to historical significance and land preservation, national monuments can boost local economies through tourism.

Today President Barack Obama will designate five new national monuments. They’re spread all over the country: There's part of the San Juan Islands in Washington state, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, the First State National Monument in Delaware and the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio.

All of that new green space, could bring some serious greenbacks into those local economies says economist Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"Those people are going to spend some money in the parks, maybe they’ll buy some food, some souvenirs. That type of spending helps boost local economies," says Bersnstein.

The Rio Grande Del Norte monument in New Mexico is expected to bring $15 million a year to the area.

That’s partially because Americans are starting to travel again says Douglas Quinby, principal analyst at PhoCusWright, a travel industry research firm.

"The economy is definitely improving, so we are optimistic [we are] going to see some gains in 2013," he says. 

Still, it could be a rough year for parks. Many are expected to take a hit under the sequestration budget cuts and will have to cut staff and reduce hours.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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