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UT Baker Center Cites Potential Benefits of Urban Wilderness

Dr. Charles Sims, Faculty Fellow at the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, recently published a paper estimating the economic impact of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness on the three county region of Knox, Anderson, and Grainger. Though looking just at bike-related use, the study identifies three potential future growth scenarios (local, regional, and national) with impressive results.

An important fact noted in the study is that the trail extent, variety, and proximity to downtown makes the Urban Wilderness unmatched in the United States. “Few cities outside the Rocky Mountain region have trail systems or bike parks within 10 miles of downtown with as many trail miles as the Urban Wilderness. This proximity to retail, entertainment, and lodging implies a greater potential economic impact compared to most other trail systems situated in rural areas.”

According to the report, current spending by visitors to the Urban Wilderness generates $241,498 in state and local sales tax revenue and the total local economic impact is $14.7 million. If the Urban Wilderness grows to be a true regional destination, sales tax revenues would double, and the economic impact would grow to $25.7 million. Becoming a national destination would double sales tax revenues again – with the economic effect of over $50 million.

So, the Urban Wilderness trails are not only an exceptional recreational amenity, they are an important economic asset as well. You can read the entire Baker Center report here.

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