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Originally published Monday, March 3, 2014 at 7:59 PM

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Olympic National Park felt federal shutdown

Visitors to Olympic National Park dropped 24 percent during last October’s partial federal shutdown and nearby communities took a $3.4 million economic blow, according to a National Park Service report released Monday.

The Associated Press

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The average number of visitors to Olympic National Park dropped 24 percent last October as a result of the government shutdown, according to a National Park Service report released Monday.

The 16-day partial government shutdown resulted in about 42,000 fewer visitors to the park on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The park saw 134,726 visitors in October 2013, down from the three-year October average of 177,431 between 2010 and 2012, the analysis showed.

That resulted in a loss of about $3.4 million in visitor spending in communities that surround the park.

A separate National Park Service report released Monday found that national parks across the country serve as an economic engine for neighboring communities, where park visitors buy food, eat at restaurants, get gas or find lodging.

In Washington state, 7.5 million people who visited national park lands spent a total of about $419 million in 2012.

At Olympic National Park, about 2.8 million visitors in 2012 spent $220 million for lodging, food, recreation and other purposes. The spending supported about 5,100 jobs in surrounding communities.

Diane Schostak, director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, said, “Every town around the peninsula benefits from having this world-heritage park in our midst.”

Just over 1 million visited Mount Rainier National Park and spent nearly $37 million in surrounding areas, while nearly 27,000 visitors to North Cascades National Park resulted in about $1.2 million in visitor spending in nearby communities.

Nationwide, the government shutdown resulted in a loss of at least $414 million in visitor spending in communities near national parks and a drop of 7.88 million in visitors.

Not all parks were included in the government shutdown analysis. Olympic was one of 45 parks that experienced a decline greater than $2 million in spending related to national parks.

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