With an estimated economic impact of $375 million, Alabama’s 22 state parks fuel far more than family vacations and outdoor excursions.

According to the Huntsville Times, a recent study concluded the statewide network of picturesque locales supported 5,340 jobs – totaling about $140 million in earnings – and attracted an estimated $152.4 million in visitor spending in 2011, the most recent year for which data was available.

Economists Samuel Addy and Ahmad Ijaz with the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce conducted the analysis.

Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein said the study confirms what anyone working in the system already knows: that “state parks are valuable tools to promote the state’s economy.”

“But the study gave us real numbers for state parks’ overall economic impact and the many public and private jobs that depend on them,” Lein said.

For instance, the report revealed state parks generate $10.9 million in state and local taxes annually.

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