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Washington • Visitors to Utah's national parks pumped $730 million into the state's economy last year, a three-year high that the National Park Service suggests shows the increasing value of protecting treasured landscapes across the country.

Utah's five national parks and other areas overseen by the park service supported more than 12,000 jobs, the agency says, and gave a $1.1 billion overall boost to the state's economic engine. That's about 3,000 more jobs associated with Utah's parks than NPS claimed in 2012 and 2013, and the first time the economic boon has topped a billion dollars in the past few years.

"National parks are world-renowned for showcasing our country's vast natural beauty and cultural and historic heritage, and, year after year, we are demonstrating that they are also economic engines in communities across the country," NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis said in unveiling the report Wednesday.

Jarvis said that every dollar invested in the National Park Service returns $10 to the U.S. economy in visitor spending in gateway communities.

National parks across America recorded 292.8 million visits in 2014, a record high after a decline the year before attributed to the 16-day government shutdown and the park closures that came after Superstorm Sandy.