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7.3 MILLION VISITORS FLOCK TO UTAH’S STATE PARKS

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Utah's state parks hosted 7.3 million visitors in 1994, the highest number of people ever to visit the parks in a single fiscal year.

The 7.3 million visitors were 1.2 million more than the previous year, representing an increase of 20 percent.Excellent boating conditions in 1994, new and expanded state park facilities, growth in Washington County and many other factors account for the increase.

"You really have to look at each park individually to determine why that park's visitation increased," said Steve Roberts, financial manager with the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation. "One factor that shows our visitation figures are correct is corresponding increases in revenue generated at the parks."

The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation manages 45 state parks, most of which experienced increases in visitation during 1994. These increases have a drawback that concerns Courtland Nelson, director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation.

"We have had several consecutive years of visitation increases, which shows we are meeting a critical need for Utah's residents and visitors," Nelson said. "However, many of our facilities, particularly at our boating parks and scenic parks, are suffering from overuse and longer recreation seasons. For example, we host almost 2 million visitors per year at Wasatch Mountain, Deer Creek and Rockport state parks, yet no significant capital dollars have been invested in 20 years in the non-golf course facilities at Wasatch Mountain or the campgrounds and infrastructure at Deer Creek and Rockport."

Nelson said he hopes to work with the legislature and other agencies to secure additional funding "to renovate and repair our most heavily used parks."