An Economic Analysis of Protected Areas and Grand Canyon River Rafting

Ryan Byrnes

Abstract: Public lands, specifically protected areas are embedded in the identity of the American West. The last one hundred years has seen a growth in protected areas managed by the federal government. These areas represent opportunities for economic growth and expansion in industries such as tourism and recreation services. Caution and quantitative analysis should be made in gauging the efficacy of protected areas contribution to stimulating local economies. Two reviews were conducted to explore the economic impacts of protected areas. The first examined the general economic impact that the presence or establishment of protected areas has on local economies. The second examined river rafting specifically in the Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) and how it impacted the surrounding communities. Both reviews found both positive and negative impacts associated with tourism developments. Though, river rafting in GCNP, while creating jobs, did not perform well in enhancing employment or retaining rafting revenues in comparison to other river recreation studies.