The partial government shutdown in October was largely to blame for a 3 percent drop in visitors to America’s national parks in 2013, according to a report released Monday by the National Park Service.
The country’s 401 parks, historic sites and recreation areas drew 273.6 million visitors in 2013, about 9 million fewer than the previous year, according to the report.
The 16-day government shutdown, sparked by a budget dispute in Washington, was responsible for reducing the visitation numbers by about 7.9 million, the report said.
The communities near the parks lost about $414 million in spending by visitors because of the shutdown, according to an economic impact report released last week.
“These closures had a real impact on local businesses and communities that rely on the national parks as important drivers for their local economies,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said.
Some parks lost visitors because of bad weather, including Blue Ridge Parkway, where visitor numbers fell by 2.5 million partly because of storm damage and cold and wet conditions last year, according to the National Parks Service. The lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy also forced the closures of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Castle Clinton for part of the year.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the San Francisco Bay Area overtook the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia as the most visited site in the National Park System. The Golden Gate site had 14.3 million visitors, compared with 12.9 million visitors at the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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