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Explaining the Determinants of Operating Budgets at U.S. National Parks


  • Robert W. Turner

    (Colgate University)

  • W. Reed Walker

    (Columbia University)


The authors use time-series, cross-section, and panel data sets to see whether U.S. National Park System operating budget appropriations are related to inflation, visitation, size, region of the country, and type of park unit. The growth rate of the aggregate National Park Service (NPS) budget seems to increase in response to higher congestion. But neither visitation growth nor growth in acreage seems to have much effect on budget growth for individual park units. Individual park units with higher visitation do seem to have larger budgets, ceteris paribus, than do parks with lower average visitation. Judging from the findings, future research should try to explain differences among the several types of park units in the NPS as well as explaining why visitation and park size have small effects for individual park units but seem to have larger effects for the aggregate NPS operating budget.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert W. Turner & W. Reed Walker, 2006. "Explaining the Determinants of Operating Budgets at U.S. National Parks," Public Finance Review, , vol. 34(5), pages 551-573, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:34:y:2006:i:5:p:551-573

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    Cited by:

    1. Turner, Robert & Willmarth, Blake, 2014. "Valuation of Cultural and Natural Resources in North Cascades National Park: Results from a Tournament-Style Contingent Choice Survey," Working Papers 2014-01, Department of Economics, Colgate University, revised 23 Jan 2014.

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    national parks; budgets; visitation; congestion;


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