- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Federal officials say 10.5 million people visited National Park Service sites in Montana and Wyoming in 2012 and spent more than $1.1 billion.

A report from the park service released Monday found those visitors supported nearly 16,000 jobs in gateway communities near parks.

Most of the jobs were in the restaurant, grocery, convenience store and lodging industries.

The biggest draw among the two states was Yellowstone National Park, which straddles the Montana-Wyoming border. The park service says 3 million visitors spent $400 million in Yellowstone.

The spending analysis was conducted for the park service by U.S. Geological Survey economists and includes spending estimates for parks, monuments, historic sites and other locations.

Park officials say the results cannot be compared to prior years because of changes in how spending is calculated.

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