Environment

With Pandemic Driving People Outdoors, Ga. State Parks Saw Record Number Of Visitors

Visits and reservations have both broken records. And it’s not just the parks. Hunting and fishing license numbers are up, too.
Visits and reservations have both broken records. And it’s not just the parks. Hunting and fishing license numbers are up, too.
Credit David Tulis / Associated Press file
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Georgia’s state parks have seen record numbers of visitors, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Visits and reservations have both broken records. And it’s not just the parks. Hunting and fishing license numbers are up, too.

The parks stayed open during the early days of the pandemic, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams said to state lawmakers during a budget hearing Wednesday.

“We just felt like, early on, that was one of the few safe places that people could go, to get out of their homes and get out and enjoy and exercise,” Williams said.

Measured by nights occupied, camping went up by 23% and yurt rentals were up by 27% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to numbers provided by Georgia DNR. Park receipt revenue was up by 13%, overall visitation up by 11%, and hunting and fishing license holders had a 7% increase.

“The pandemic has pushed Georgians and visitors outside to achieve better physical and mental health while still social distancing,” Williams told lawmakers. “We are not seeing a slowdown.”

He said though there is a maintenance backlog, the increased money from fees is helping to pay for some of those needs.

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