Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
National Parks Serve as Powerful Economic Engines for Local Communities, Supporting 252,000 Jobs
Visitor Spending Results in $30.1 Billion Economic Benefit
WASHINGTON – National Parks continued to be important economic engines for local communities, with visitors generating $30.1 billion in economic activity and supporting 252,000 jobs nationwide in 2011, according to a peer-reviewed report released today by the National Park Service.
“Places like the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty take our breath away and inspire us with their beauty and history, but our national parks also serve as anchors for our nation's economy,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “People who visit parks need transportation, places to stay, and meals to eat – all of which support businesses and provide jobs in local communities.”
The statistics for 2011 are based on the spending of nearly 279 million national park visitors; more than one third of that total spending, or $13 billion, went directly into communities within 60 miles of a park. The numbers are on par with previous years.
“Everyone knows that national parks are great places to visit that offer inspiring educational experiences, unparalleled outdoor recreation, and a whole lot of fun,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “But what this report shows is that America's national parks are also critical economic engines, not only for our neighbors in gateway communities, but for our entire country. The national parks return more than $10 for every $1 the American taxpayer invests in the National Park Service; that makes good stewardship sense and good business sense.”
Salazar and Jarvis warned that mandatory budget cuts under sequestration will result in reduced hours of operation for visitor centers, shorter seasons, and possibly closing campgrounds, hiking trails, and other recreational areas when there is insufficient staff to ensure the protection of visitors, staff and resources. Should Congress fail to act before the March 1 deadline, the public should expect reduced hours and services not only at America's 398 national parks but also at the 561 national wildlife refuges and over 268 public land units.
The reduced services will have a direct impact on the local communities and businesses that depend on the income generated from visitors to America's public lands.
The National Park Service report is done on an annual basis and is prepared through a cooperative agreement with Michigan State University. The entire report, with information by park and by state on visitor spending, jobs and other impacts, is available online at: http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/products.cfm#MGM (click ‘Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2011'). According to the report, most visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food, and beverage service (63 percent) followed by recreation and entertainment (17 percent), other retail (11 percent), transportation and fuel (7 percent), and wholesale and manufacturing (2 percent).
This week the National Park Service also released its 2012 visitation numbers showing an increase of 3.8 million over the previous year for a total of 282.8 million visitors to the National Park Service's 398 parks. Visitation broken down by park and state is available online at https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/. These numbers will be the basis for next year's economic benefits report.