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Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-5045.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: January 17, 2012
Contact: Jim Meisner Jr., DCR Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-8442, jim.meisner@dcr.virginia.gov

Virginia State Parks sets overnight visitation record in 2011

(EDITORS: For a table showing the attendance and economic impact of each state park, click here http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/documents/11parkattend.pdf or e-mail jim.meisner@dcr.virginia.gov)

(RICHMOND) - In 2011 Virginia State Parks celebrated its 75th anniversary with contests, special events and near-record attendance. They also hosted more overnight visitors than any year in history.
 
 Overnight attendance in state park cabins, campgrounds and lodges increased 3 percent last year to 1,055,875, up from 1,022,698 in 2010.

 "Year after year, Virginia State Parks continue to host record numbers of visitors," said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation State Parks Director Joe Elton.

 The 2011 overall attendance of 7,836,246 visitors was the second highest in the state park system's 75-year history, down slightly from the record-high attendance of 8,065,558 in 2010.

 "Hurricanes and tornados briefly closed a number of parks, in some cases for several weeks, and yet our daily attendance was the second highest in history, only a modest decline from 2010," Elton said. "In fact, our daily attendance increased in nearly half of our 35 parks. Virginia State Parks remain a primary vacation destination for millions of people looking for affordable opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors."

 Because Virginia State Parks generally are in less developed areas, they remain an important economic stimulant in rural communities when millions of visitors spend tens of millions of dollars on local goods and services.

 "Our state parks continue to be an excellent investment for the state," Elton said. "Our parks help generate more than $10 to the local economy for every $1 of general fund money allocated to state parks in the state budget."

 Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and offer dozens of festivals and concerts and thousands of educational programs across the state.

 For more information about state park activities and amenities, or to make reservations in one of the 25 parks with camping facilities or 18 parks with cabins or family lodges, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.

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