Fewer trash cans, more wild flowers
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, which covers about 9 miles of parks and trails in Cobb including Sope Creek Falls, Johnson Ferry North, Cochran Shoals and Paces Mill, is looking at more than $166,000 in cuts. Rudy Evenson, the park spokesman, said they are reducing the number of trash cans throughout the areas and trails, as well as three seasonal workers. They will also do less grounds maintenance like mowing, and they will close the Powers Island store across from the Cochran Shoals fitness loop this summer. Removing the trash cans will save about $76,000 throughout the park in metro Atlanta. “The thing that people will probably notice the most is the mowing,” Evenson said. “The result of that is that we’ll have more wildflower meadows so you can see some really pretty flowers right now, but as the summer goes by, it might look a little shaggy sometimes.” Evenson said it won’t affect the opening and closing times, and they don’t expect to cut any program funding. “We are putting visitors first, and we didn’t make any cuts that would affect safety on the river, access on the river and we really did our best to focus on things that would not affect our rivers in an adverse way,” he said.
Economic impact on Cobb is huge
Walther was not sure exactly what type of economic impact these cuts might have on the park’s future or the Cobb community, but said they typically have about 1.9 million visitors per year. According to a release from the National Park Service, there was approximately $59.9 million spent in the area by park visitors in 2011, and 724 local jobs were supported by the park’s being open. Evenson said the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area brought in an estimated $102 million in the metro Atlanta area in 2012, supporting 1,185 jobs for the 48 miles of parks. “We know that the economic benefit will be lessened by the direct effect of three fewer seasonal maintenance jobs this summer, but how that translates into the final effect, I would not be able to say,” he said. There are approximately 3.2 million total visitors to the riverside parks annually. Visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, other retail, transportation and fuel and wholesale and manufacturing. Nationally, a report done by Michigan State University indicated that $13 billion in direct visitors’ spending was made in 2011 from the estimated 279 million visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. It impacted the economy nationally by about $30 billion and supported about 252,000 jobs. To learn more about the national parks of Georgia, visit nps.gov/Georgia