Governor Mark Gordon has announced that up to $6.5 million of remaining CARES Act funds will be used to fund capacity expansion at Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites. This will expand opportunities for people to spend time outside in the state, boost tourism and address overcrowding caused by COVID-19.
The funds will be utilized to provide 18% more overnight camping capacity to visitors and the traveling public, reflecting a significant increase in demand Wyoming State Parks saw in 2020. A portion of the funds will also be used to expand day-use amenities such as additional day use areas, picnic shelters, and parking. State Parks saw a 36% increase in visitation in 2020, which translated to more than 1.4 million additional visitors to state parks, exceeding capacity limits at most sites.
“Expanding outdoor recreation opportunities will benefit the state, and will provide an immediate return on investment,” Governor Gordon said. “The public appreciated the fact that our parks remained open last year, providing a healthy option to relieve the stress of the pandemic. Strengthening our state park system is important to Wyoming’s long-term economic health as well.”
Wyoming State Parks produce an annual economic impact of approximately $1.5 billion, according to the preliminary draft of an economic impact study from the University of Wyoming. The increase in visitation seen last year is expected to continue in 2021 based on this season’s campsite reservation bookings. State Parks Director Darin Westby emphasized that the additional campsites and day-use expansion amenities will be added quickly to the system to provide additional opportunities to visitors this summer. These facilities may initially be temporary, but will continue to be improved as additional funds become available.
“We have an amazing team and they are excited and working very hard to offer these additional campsites, developed to get people outdoors and recreating to help achieve the agency’s mission of impacting communities and enhancing lives” Westby said.
“As Wyoming continues to be a top outdoor destination for tourists, we are seeing campsites, lodging and other amenities nearly booked for the summer, especially throughout state parks,” said Diane Shober, executive director for the Wyoming Office of Tourism. “This is a great opportunity to meet summer travel demand while continuing to offer visitors and residents alike a memorable outdoor adventure.”
For more information on Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites, visit https://wyoparks.wyo.gov/index.php