Public lands are big business for America’s outdoor recreation industry which generates $646 billion nationally and $6.1 billion in New Mexico, employing over 68,000 New Mexicans. The historical- and outdoor recreation-related tourism that Chaco Canyon attracts powers the local economies surrounding the park. According to a recent study by the National Park Services, nearly 40,000 people visited Chaco Historical Park in 2012, resulting in almost $2.3 million in direct economic activity.

Photo courtesy of Tom Vaughan. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Vaughan. 

Communities across New Mexico from Farmington, to Aztec, and even to Albuquerque benefit from these tourism dollars. And most importantly, Chaco is a symbol of New Mexico and our outdoor heritage. Public lands such as Chaco Canyon are what make western cities desirable places to live and provide a chance for our families to experience the outdoors. These landscapes inspire entrepreneurs and also help businesses to attract high skilled workers. That’s why a Small Business Majority survey found that 41 percent of entrepreneurs who set up shop in New Mexico came because of “access to parks, public lands and other outdoor opportunities.