Starting in January, 2018, the Passport to the Parks has been welcoming Connecticut residents to State Parks with no more parking fees at the gate. Just a few years ago, it could cost $13 for just one entrance to a shoreline State Park.
And this year, once again, attendance to State Parks has soared DESPITE parking lot capacity restrictions due to COVID-19. For example:
- Hammonasset Beach State Park saw an increase from 2.22 million day-use visitors in 2019 to 2.67 million in 2020 (through mid-October) -- an increase of over 20%!
- Closures of State Parks due to excess capacity increased from 120 in 2019 to 478 year-over-year -- a 300% increase.
People are enjoying State Parks at record numbers, but this is also putting a strain on the State Parks system. For example, calls for service from Environmental Conservation Officers in State Parks is up from 3,328 calls in 2019 to 10,184 year-over-year -- a 225% increase.
For just $5/year paid on your vehicle registration at the DMV, everyone has access to State Parks, and Parks now have almost $20 million dedicated to maintain these special places for you.
Please do what you can to ensure the Passport to the Parks is protected from raids or diversions by the state legislature. If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, the connection to the outdoors is incredibly important for your mental and physical health, and so it is critical to ensure that these special places and the resources to maintain them remain intact.