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New survey says locals, non-locals spend more than $90M annually at communities surrounding forests

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - A recent study found that  visits to the Mount Hood National Forest generate around $94 million in spending each year in the communities surrounding the forest, such as Estacada.

A national study conducted by the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station found that visits to the Mount Hood National Forest generate around $94 million in spending each year in the communities surrounding the forest. Of that number, approximately 75 percent is associated with visits for downhill skiing and snowboarding.

Visitors to Mount Hood and the country's other national forests were surveyed at both designated recreation sites and the general forest area. Respondents were asked about spending in 10 different categories, including motels, camping, restaurants, groceries, gas and oil, entry fees, recreation and entertainment, sporting goods and souvenirs.

In 2015, the Mount Hood National Forest received 1.95 million visits. Local guests taking day trips made up 52 percent of those visits and 25 percent of spending during that time. Non-local visitors taking overnight trips to the forest accounted for 8 percent of visits and 41 percent of spending.

Of funds spent by both local and non-local visitors to the Mount Hood National Forest, the greatest expenses were for gas and oil ($17.9 million), restaurant food and alcohol ($17.1 million), entry fees ($16.3 million) and lodging ($12.4 million). Non-local overnight visitors accounted for most spending at restaurants and lodging, and local day visitors accounted for the majority of spending for gas and oil and entree fees.

Of visitors to national forests across the country, local residents taking day trips spent an average of $36 per trip. Visitors staying on or near the forest overnight for skiing or snowboarding trips spent more than $740 per trip.

Across the state, national forests receive more than nine million visits each year, during which time visitors spend approximately $448 million annually in surrounding communities.

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