By JIMMY LAWTON
Visitation at St. Lawrence County's state-owned parks this year is up by 5.4 percent over 2011, nearly on par with the 5.6 percent increase in parks across the state.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced a total of 43.7 million people visited state parks from Jan. 1 through Aug. 23.
In St. Lawrence County, state park visitation rose from 222,202 to 234,093.
The largest increase in local park visitation was seen at Waddington's Coles Creek which rose by more than 6,000 from 102,384 to 108,748.
Jacques Cartier rose by nearly 5,000 visitors from 15,785 to 20,576.
Other significant increases occurred at Higley Flow which had approximately 1,500 more visitors and Eel Weir, in Oswegatchie, which drew roughly 1,000 more attendees.
Massena's Robert Moses State Park actually saw approximately 1,000 less visitors than it had in 2011.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said he was pleased with the high attendance rates and expected Labor Day weekend to draw a significant crowd as well.
"It is gratifying that so many people continue to enjoy and appreciate the New York state park system year after year," he said. "New Yorkers are fortunate to have such high-quality and inviting state parks and historic sites across the state, and we hope to see even more visitors have fun at their parks this Labor Day weekend."
Harvey said he expects the park attendance to remain strong throughout the autumn months.
"We've had a tremendous season so far and we hope that our visitors enjoyed their time swimming, camping, golfing, hiking and sightseeing at our parks and historic sites," said Harvey said. "But the year is far from over and fall is one of the best times to get outside in New York. We look forward to welcoming millions more visitors to our properties for fall camping, leaf peeping festivals, historical reenactments and more."