Durango Parks and Recreation programs and assets contribute an estimated $33.9 million to the local economy annually, according to an economic impact study released this week.
The study, prepared by RPI consulting, showed that while the Parks and Recreation Department spends $14.5 million annually on operations and capital improvements, it contributes about $33.9 million in economic impacts, including visitor spending, jobs and lodgers tax revenues for the City of Durango and La Plata County. See details below.
“Highest among the non-monetary benefits arising from the Parks and Recreation Department are the hundreds of thousands of instances of local community members using and personally benefiting from Parks and Recreation Department facilities in a given year,” notes the report. “The Department’s role in public health cannot go unstated and parks and recreation is integral to the quality-of-life offerings that are central to the community’s economic development strategy.”
The study also looked at health/wellness and environmental benefits resulting from Durango Parks and Recreation programs, services, amenities and facilities.
- Parks and Recreation provided more than 500,000 documented services (visits to the Durango Community Recreation Center, Chapman Hill and Ice Rink) in 2018 and 2019.
- While indoor recreation went down during the pandemic, use of outdoor recreation amenities more than doubled. There were more than 107,000 users at Lake Nighthorse in 2021 compared to about 47,000 in 2018.
- An estimated 159,500 users frequented trails in and around the city in 2021.
- City open space and parks raised property values in some areas by as much as 18%.
Additional non-monetary benefits to the community include:
- Higher resident activity in La Plata County compared to the state average: 71% of La Plata County residents met aerobic activity guidelines, compared to a Colorado average of 59%.
- Removal of 21,000 pounds of pollutants by city-managed trees every year.
- Preservation of 3,284 acres of open space, 365 acres of Animas River greenway and 65 acres of park land from 1994 to 2021.
- Program providing wildfire hazard mitigation in the wildland/urban interface areas of city-owned open space.
The study will be presented to City Council at the study session on Feb. 1. The presentation and study are available on the Parks and Recreation Plans Policies and Reports page.