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Value to the Nation: Recreation

USACE Lake and River Projects at Play

recreation photograph 1

260M
visits per year

EVERY YEAR…there are about 260 million visits to the more than 400 USACE lake and river projects where visitors exercise, spend time with their families or just enjoy a lazy afternoon. Most of them will have driven an hour or less from a major city to reach their favorite USACE lake or river project. The fortunate Americans who experience a USACE lake or river project benefit from the fresh air and exercise, and these hours of recreation are often a highlight of their week. USACE is continually working to maintain and improve the parks surrounding these lake and river projects, including adding new recreational features, usually in partnership with local governments or private recreation organizations.

USACE Lake and River Projects at Work

recreation photograph 2

$12.3B
in annual visitor
spending

EVERY DAY…210,000 Americans work at jobs supporting visitors to USACE lake and river projects, at restaurants, hotels, marinas and other businesses related to tourism. These jobs play an important role in the local economy and generate annual visitor spending of about $12.3 billion. USACE lake and river projects attract residents and businesses to the area resulting in investments to take advantage of the sporting and tourism opportunities the lake or river project offers. USACE lake and river projects are powerful generators of economic development, often located in areas that are in need of steady jobs. 

USACE Lake and River Projects and the Environment

recreation photograph 3

12M
acres of natural
environment
managed

EVERY DAY…USACE protects and manages 12 million acres of natural environment in and around its lake and river projects through projects that protect and reestablish healthy ecosystems like planting new stands of the near-extinct Eastern chestnut trees, establishing fish hatcheries and controlling the threats posed by invasive species. 

 

 

USACE Recreation Fast Facts

Natural and recreational resources at the more than 400 USACE lake and river projects provide social, economic and environmental benefits for all Americans. The Recreation Fast Facts reports highlight some of the benefits related to USACE's role in managing natural and recreational resources in the U.S. 

More Information

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 Benefits in Perspective

Did you know:

  • By providing opportunities for active recreation, USACE lake and river projects help combat one of the most significant of the nation's health problems: lack of physical activity.
  • Recreational programs and activities at USACE lake and river projects also help strengthen family ties and friendships; provide opportunities for children to develop personal skills, social values, and self-esteem; and increase water safety.
  • The money spent by visitors to USACE lake and river projects on trip expenses adds to the local and national economies by supporting jobs and generating income. Visitor spending represents a sizable component of the economy in many communities around USACE lake and river projects.
  • Recreation experiences increase motivation to learn more about the environment; understanding and awareness of environmental issues; and sensitivity to the environment.
 How these numbers were calculated

Computations of Economic Impacts of USACE Visitor Spending

Four components are needed to estimate economic effects: recreation spending, visitor use estimates, capture rates and economic multipliers.

Economic effects = # of visits × average spending per visit × capture rate × regional economic multiplier

The visitation data used here was derived from the VERS database with fiscal year data, while the spending profiles were estimated from a national visitor spending survey that was conducted in 2011-2013 and price indexed to fiscal year dollars using Consumer Price Index by sectors. Economic contributions are calculated using the Army Corps’ Regional Economic System (RECONS) with capture rates and economic multipliers were extracted from the Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) system. Regional models were developed for each of the USACE projects, districts, divisions, plus a national model and 43 state models to estimate the total economic effects at various geographic levels. Spending averages were computed and multiplied by visitation statistics to estimate total annual visitor spending. Generalized spending profiles were developed for three sets of visitor segments: (1) campers and day users, (2) boaters and non-boaters, and (3) locals vs non-locals. These profiles were applied to recreation use data gathered from the visitation use survey and from VERS and National Recreation Reservation System (NRRS) to estimate total spending by each segment for each of the USACE projects.

It is important to distinguish these results that employed local models, or "bottom-up" approach (aggregation of local effects) from the "top-down" approach that used state or U.S. models. The top-down effects were the results of total trip spending by USACE visitors (both within and outside 30 miles of projects' borders) and employed state or national multipliers. These effects were much higher than the aggregation of local effects because the higher capture rate and higher multipliers. The economic impact estimates employed the "top-down" approach are available on this website for all district, division, state and the national level reports.

Sources of Data

  • FY 2021
    • Lee, S.S., et al. (2021). US Army Corps of Engineers IWR- Regional Economic System (RECONS). Computer Model and Online Database. Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. to the Library last send
    • Stynes, D.J., and Chang, W.H. (2007). National and Regional Economic Effects of CE Recreation Visitor Spending: An Update. Technical report, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. In press.
    • Chang, W.H., Propst, D.B., Stynes, D.J., and Jackson, R.S. (2003). Recreation Visitor Spending Profiles and Economic benefits to Corps of Engineers Projects. ERDC/EL TR-03-21. Technical report, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS.
    • Natural Resources Management Assessment (2020). Online tool and electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) – (2021). Electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Visitation Estimation & Reporting System (VERS) – (2021). Electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • National Recreation Reservation System (NRRS) – (2021). Proprietary electronic database. Transmitted to US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
  • FY 2020
    • Lee, S.S., et al. (2020). US Army Corps of Engineers IWR- Regional Economic System (RECONS). Computer Model and Online Database. Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. to the Library last send
    • Stynes, D.J., and Chang, W.H. (2007). National and Regional Economic Effects of CE Recreation Visitor Spending: An Update. Technical report, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. In press.
    • Chang, W.H., Propst, D.B., Stynes, D.J., and Jackson, R.S. (2003). Recreation Visitor Spending Profiles and Economic benefits to Corps of Engineers Projects. ERDC/EL TR-03-21. Technical report, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS.
    • Natural Resources Management Assessment (2019). Online tool and electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) – (2020). Electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Visitation Estimation & Reporting System (VERS) – (2020). Electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • National Recreation Reservation System (NRRS) – (2020). Proprietary electronic database. Transmitted to US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
  • FY 2019
    • Lee, S.S., et al. (2019). US Army Corps of Engineers IWR- Regional Economic System (RECONS). Computer Model and Online Database. Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. to the Library last send
    • Stynes, D.J., and Chang, W.H. (2007). National and Regional Economic Effects of CE Recreation Visitor Spending: An Update. Technical report, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. In press.
    • Chang, W.H., Propst, D.B., Stynes, D.J., and Jackson, R.S. (2003). Recreation Visitor Spending Profiles and Economic benefits to Corps of Engineers Projects. ERDC/EL TR-03-21. Technical report, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS.
    • Natural Resources Management Assessment (2018). Online tool and electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) – (2019). Electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • Visitation Estimation & Reporting System (VERS) – (2019). Electronic database. Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
    • National Recreation Reservation System (NRRS) – (2019). Proprietary electronic database. Transmitted to US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC.
  • FY 2016
    • Chang, W. H., et al. (2012). US Army Corps of Engineers IWR- Regional Economic System. Computer Model and Online Database. Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Chang, W. H., Stynes, D. J., Jackson, R. S., & Propst, D. B. (2012). US Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Economic Assessment System. Computer Model and Online Database. Alexandria, VA: Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Stynes, D.J., and Chang, W.H. (2007). National and Regional Economic Effects of CE Recreation Visitor Spending: An Update. Technical report, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. In press.
    • Chang, W.H., Propst, D.B., Stynes, D.J., and Jackson, R.S. (2003). Recreation Visitor Spending Profiles and Economic benefits to Corps of Engineers Projects. ERDC/EL TR-03-21. Technical report, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS.
    • Jackson, R. S., Stynes, D. J., Propst, D. B., and Carlson, B. D. (1996). A Summary of the National and State Economic Effects of the 1994 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Program. Technical Report R-96-1, U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS.
    • Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL). (2018). Electronic database. Maintained by US Army Engineer, Washington, DC.
    • Visitation Estimation & Reporting System (VERS). (2018). Electronic database. Maintained by US Army Engineer, Washington, DC.
    • National Recreation Reservation System (NRRS). (2018). Proprietary electronic database. Transmitted to US Army Engineer, Washington, DC.
 Websites of Interest

Recreation Fast Facts Archive

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 2021 Recreation Fast Facts


Select 2021 Recreation Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select a collection of reports, or go to an individual report.

For a list of everything in a collection, for example, for the state of Alaska, select "Alaska State and Lake Reports". For all reports in the USACE District report collection, select "All District Reports".

The collection list may display in a column on the right side of your browser or it may display at the bottom of the page.

How these numbers were calculated.

 2020 Recreation Fast Facts


Select 2020 Recreation Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select a collection of reports, or go to an individual report.

For a list of everything in a collection, for example, for the state of Alaska, select "Alaska State and Lake Reports". For all reports in the USACE District report collection, select "All District Reports".

The collection list may display in a column on the right side of your browser or it may display at the bottom of the page.

How these numbers were calculated.

 2019 Recreation Fast Facts


Select 2019 Recreation Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select a collection of reports, or go to an individual report.

For a list of everything in a collection, for example, for the state of Alaska, select "Alaska State and Lake Reports". For all reports in the USACE District report collection, select "All District Reports".

The collection list may display in a column on the right side of your browser or it may display at the bottom of the page.

How these numbers were calculated.

 2018 Recreation Fast Facts


Select 2018 Recreation Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections:

You can select a collection of reports, or go to an individual report. Please note that lake reports are available in the state collections and not listed separately here.

For a list of everything in a collection, for example, for the state of Alaska, select "Alaska State and Lake Reports. For all reports in the USACE District report collection, select "All District Reports".

The collection list may display in a column on the right side of your browser or it may display at the bottom of the page.

How these numbers were calculated.

 2016 Recreation Fast Facts


Select 2016 Recreation Fast Facts Reports from the USACE Digital Library collections: