Nestled along the South Jetty of the Columbia River in the most northwest point of Oregon, Fort Stevens State Park apparently offers more than historical significance and natural wonder.
According to the Daily Astorian, a six-year study by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department found that Fort Stevens was the second-highest economic driver of the more than 150 state parks. All the parks combined were found to add $1.1 billion to the state economy. Gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and bars were the primary beneficiaries.
Nearly 1.5 million visitors spend $40.1 million in and around Fort Stevens in a given year. The park also supports nearly 600 full-time area jobs.
“I’m not surprised,” Park Manager Justin Parker said. “People do come from a long ways away. People stay longer here than at any other park.”
The study was based on visitor surveys conducted at each state park for one year, though not all parks were studied in the same year. Figures for many coastal parks, such as Fort Stevens, came from 2011 surveys, while the surveys in eastern parks were conducted last year. Overall, visitor coastal parks totaled roughly half of all spending.
The park, based around a fort built during the Civil War to guard against a potential British invasion, does not lack historical draws. Though it closed as an active military site after World War II, dated batteries and barracks remain for visitors to tour on the north side of the park. The Peter Iredale shipwreck has been settled on the park’s beach for more than a century.
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