By Eli Francovich

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.)

Idaho’s state parks contributed $184 million to the state’s economy in 2016, according to a new study.

For every dollar Idaho taxpayers pay toward the parks, $54 is returned to the economy, according to the study.

“During the Great Recession there was some discussion about the value of state parks and the role of state governments in providing recreation,” said David Langhorst the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation director. “And we weren’t really prepared to speak to what value we offer.”

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation surveyed nearly 10,000 day-use and overnight visitors in 2016.

Based on that information, researchers at Boise State estimated visitors spent $127 million on groceries, meals, fuel, lodging, recreation, retail and other items in communities near the parks.

Additionally, the parks created 3,039 jobs in nearby towns. Those jobs earned Idahoans $89 million in wages, salaries and benefits, according to a news release from the state.

Idaho has 30 state parks, equaling 60,000 acres. In 2016, there were 5.5 million visitors.

The establishment of parks in the U.S. was historically seen as a potential economic driver, according to a 2010 National Recreation and Park Association study.

According to an Associated Press report in December, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department found that visitors to this state’s parks contributed more than $1 billion to the economy and supported 16,000 jobs in 2016.