State parks, including some locally, saw an increase in annual attendance last year.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Thursday, Feb. 16 in a media release that annual attendance at state parks, historic sites, campgrounds and trails operated by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation saw a record 79.5 million visits in 2022. Total visits statewide increased by more than one million compared to the previous year, underscoring Governor Hochul’s commitment to ensuring that the investment in parks and recreation will pay off for New Yorkers and visitors alike.
“To give a sense of the scale of these numbers, these attendance records rival and exceed the attendance for most National Parks,” New York State Council of Parks Chair Bryan Erwin said in the release.
New York State Park attendance has been steadily climbing for more than a decade, rising nearly 43 percent since 2008, the release said. Niagara Falls State Park led the list with 9.4 million visits.
“From Niagara Falls to Bear Mountain to Jones Beach, New York’s State Parks offer residents and visitors the opportunity to reconnect with the environment, breath in the fresh air, and find solace in their natural surroundings,” Hochul said in the release. “Our recent investment to revitalize the park system, expand open space, and protect our coastlines will ensure that generations to come can enjoy the diverse environment that this state has to offer.”
According to a report submitted by the state park agency, the most visited local state park was Gilbert Lake State Park in Laurens, with 198,323 visitors, an increase of 62,346 over 2021 but less than its 2019 peak of 202,304 visitors. Glimmerglass State Park in Cooperstown was second, with 171,057 visitors last year, an increase of 8,962. Mine Kill State Park in North Blenheim had 147,728 visitors in 2022, an increase of 19,925; however, it was lower than the 208,662 visitors it had in 2020. Oquaga State Park in Bainbridge had 83,062 visitors, down from 89,830 visitors in 2021. Bowman Lake State Park in Oxford had 69,578 visitors last year, which was more than in 2021 but less than 2019. Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park in Schenevus tallied 18,739 visitors in 2022, which was less than the 2021 total. Canadarago Boat Launch in Richfield Springs had 17,314 visitors, which was more than 2021 but less than 2020. The Max V. Shaul Campsite in Fultonham has seen a decrease in visitors the past two years and had 16,399 in 2022. The John Burroughs Memorial in Roxbury also saw a decrease in visitors from 2021 to 2022. In 2021, 1,537 people visited the historical site, while 1,420 visited in 2022.
Gov. Hochul’s proposed FY 2024 budget commits $200 million in capital funding to continue the ongoing transformation of New York’s flagship parks, support critical infrastructure projects, and help meet the goal of powering park facilities with renewable energy by 2030, the release said. The budget proposal would also enhance the agency workforce to support a new and expanded Park Police Academy class, the Environmental Bond Act, the Empire State Trail, park administration and site operations. Additionally, the $4.2 billion “Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act” will boost funding for climate change mitigation, restoration and flood risk reduction projects, and open space protection to continue to improve stewardship of the park system’s 350,000 acres and 300 miles of coastline.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails, and boat launches. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
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