Governor Gordon Using Remaining CARES Act Funds to Expand Wyoming State Parks
Governor Mark Gordon recently announced that up tp $6.5 million of remaining CARES Act funds are going towards funding capacity expansion at Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites.
That's according to a press release sent out by the Governor, in which he stated the funds will go towards expanding opportunities for people to spend time outside in Wyoming. This move will also boost tourism and will also address overcrowding caused by COVID-19.
“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.”
According to the release, the funds will be utilized to provide 18% more overnight camping capacity to tourists. A portion of the funds will also be used to expand day-use amenities, including day-use areas, picnic shelters, and parking spaces.
The release notes that state parks saw a 36% increase in visitation in 2020, which translated to 1.4 million additional visitors to state parks. This vastly exceeded capacity at most sites.
According to the preliminary draft of an economic impact study from the University of Wyoming, Wyoming State Parks produce an annual economic impact of approximately $1.5 billion. The release states that the increase in visitation to state parks seen last year is expected to continue in 2021, based on this season's campsite reservation booking logs.
Darin Westby, the State Parks Director, stated that additional campsite and day-use expansion amenities will be added as soon as possible to the system in order to provide more opportunities for visitors this summer. He said that these facilities may be just temporary for now, but will continue to be improved upon 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.
Diane Shober, the Executive Director for the Wyoming Office of Tourism said that Wyoming is high on the list of tourist destinations.
“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," Shober stated. “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, visit the Wyoming Parks website.