New York's state parks had record-number of visitors in 2018

More than 74 million people, a new record, visited New York's state parks, state historic sites, and state campgrounds in 2018, which is a 4-percent increase over the prior year, the governor's office said.

"State Parks are at the heart of New York's tourism economy, attracting visitors from all over the world to discover the history and explore the beauty of our great state," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release. "Through the Parks 2020 initiative and other major investments to preserve and modernize our parks, campgrounds, and historic sites, we continue to re-energize local economies and encourage families to experience the unparalleled recreation opportunities that are available in New York."

The Parks 2020 initiative is a program to spruce up, improve and upgrade more than 200 properties administered by the state's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The state's 2018-2019 budget included $70 million earmarked for the initiative.

Major improvements at several properties—including Jones Beach State Park on Long Island, Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region and Green Lakes State Park in central New York—helped fuel the record-breaking popularity of OPRHP's parks, beaches, trails, historic sites, and campgrounds, officials said.

The Empire Pass, which gives you unlimited day-use vehicle access to most state parks and forests, is growing in popularity. The state sold a record 102,000-plus Empire Passes in 2018, a 31-percent increase from 2017.

With The AP