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Delaware State Parks sets a visitation record for the 8th year in a row

Delaware Public Media

2022 saw another record for Delaware State Parks’ visitation.

Delaware State Parks welcomed over 8 million visitors last year - the 8th year in a row a record was set for parks visitors.

Last year Alapocas Run, Auburn Valley, the Brandywine Zoo, Fort Delaware and Killens Pond state parks, and the First State Heritage Park all saw a 10 percent increase in visitation.

DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens says a big factor is there is no more offseason for Delaware State Parks.

"You can go to the Lums Pond campground in December and there might be 25 sites booked on a weekend. When we used to just close that campground at times because there was no one that wanted to come, or we thought there was no one that wanted to come,” said Bivens. “So, I think people are shifting their patterns which is good and helpful, but we're seeing full times and bookings in months like October and November."

Division of Parks and Recreation programs, volunteer hours and amenities all saw increases in 2022 from 2021- including a 28% increase in school program participants and a 23% increase in volunteer hours.

There was also a 12% increase in visitors to Deerfield and Garrisons Lake golf courses with nearly 60,000 rounds of golf played, 40,000 visitors for events in 2022 and a 10% increase in visitors to Killens Pond Water Park.

In the last five years, visits are up 37%, and unlike other state parks around the country, Delaware hasn’t seen COVID cut into its numbers.

DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens says the state's promotion of going to state parks during the pandemic actually provided a boost.

"I got so many positive comments from people that they fell in love with our parks during the pandemic, especially ones that they never had the time or never went out to find new places. You can only walk the same place so many times, you want to go find other trails, and that's great to hear," said Bivens.

Bivens notes the weather was a big help last year - as many summer weekends were dry drove park visits.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.