ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Gov. Cuomo announced that New York’s State parks, historic sites, campgrounds, and trails hit a record-setting 78 million visits in 2020. The Governor says this milestone marks nine years of steady visitor growth and is an overall increase of 34% – which compares to over 20 million visitors since 2011.
In 2019, New York State Parks saw an estimated 77.1 million visitors. The increase in attendance occurred in the spring and fall, as New Yorkers turned to nearby State parks, trails and historic sites to escape the pandemic.
“In 2020, our State parks became an even more critical resource than before as New Yorkers sought safe places for solace, exercise and relief from the pandemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York remains fully committed to the continued modernization of our parks system, and with the recent completion of the 750-mile Empire State Trail, we are ensuring New Yorkers and visitors alike, have unparalleled recreational opportunities, especially during these unprecedented times.”
Visits during the summer, typically the busiest time in the park system, did not spike particularly since State park beaches, pools, historic sites and trailheads operated with reduced capacity limits to protect visitor health and promote social distancing. Attendance at some of the park system’s traditionally most popular destinations was also impacted by limits on out-of-state and international visitors; cancelation of large concerts, festivals and events; and public messages urging people to recreate locally.
Continued improvements made through the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 Plan promoted healthy outdoor recreation and encouraged families and visitors to explore State Parks. In 2020, new improvements and facilities included: Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center and a revitalized West Games Area at Jones Beach State Park; a new visitor center at Minnewaska State Park, an expanded Purple Heart Hall of Honor, new cottages at Westcott Beach State Park and a new recreation complex at Letchworth State Park.
Building on the success of the NY Parks 2020 initiative, Governor Cuomo announced in his 2021 State of the State agenda that New York will launch NY Parks 100, renewing the commitment to investing and expanding the State park system by committing at least $440 million over the next four years. This critical period of revitalization will culminate in the 2024 celebration of the 100th anniversary of the State Park Act.
NY Parks 100 will continue investments in park infrastructure within the full range of New York’s recreational and cultural offerings, including local parks and trails, regional flagship parks and historic sites, and vast wilderness parks.