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Economic Impacts of Protecting Rivers, Trails, and Greenway Corridors: A Resource Book

Rivers, trails, and greenway corridors (linear open spaces connecting recreational, cultural and natural areas) have the potential to create jobs, enhance property values, expand local businesses, attract new or relocating businesses, increase local tax revenues, decrease local government expenditures, and promote a local community. This resource book aims to encourage local professionals and citizens to use economic concepts as part of their effort to protect and promote greenways; provides examples of how greenways and parks have benefited local and regional economies, and demonstrates how to determine the potential economic impacts of river, trail, and greenway projects.

This comprehensive resource published by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, includes the following sections:

Real Property Values

  • Presents evidence that greenways and trails may increase nearby property values. Demonstrates how an increase in property values can increase local tax revenues and help offset greenway acquisition costs.

Expenditures by Residents

  • Explains how spending by local residents on greenway-related activities can help support recreation-oriented businesses and employment, as well as other businesses which are patronized by greenway, river and trail users.

Commercial Uses

  • Describes the potential for concessions and special events within the greenway, which can boost local business as well as raise funds for the greenway itself.


  • Describes how greenways, rivers and trails which attract visitors to a community support local businesses such as lodging, food establishments, and recreation-oriented services. Greenways may also help improve the overall appeal of a community to visitors and increase tourism.

Estimating the Effects of Spending

  • Explains direct and indirect effects of greenway-related expenditures and how to estimate economic impacts of your project.

Agency Expenditures

  • Explains how the agency responsible for managing a river, trail or greenway can support local businesses by purchasing supplies and services. Jobs created by the managing agency may also help increase local employment opportunities and benefit the local economy.

Corporate Relocation and Retention

  • Presents evidence that the quality of life of a community is an increasingly important factor for retaining and attracting corporations and businesses, and that greenways, rivers and trails can be important contributors to the quality of life. Corporations bring jobs to a community and help support businesses which provide services and products to corporations and their employees.

Public Cost Reduction

  • Explains how conservation of rivers, trails and greenways may help local governments and other public agencies to reduce long term costs for services such as roads and sewers; reduce costs resulting from injury to persons and property from hazards such as flooding; and avoid potential costly damages to natural resources such as water and fisheries.

Benefit Estimation

  • Describes how the recreational benefits of rivers, trails and greenways can be estimated in monetary values. Users can be surveyed to estimate the value of a visit to a greenway.