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National Parks Could Be Hampered By Success in Centennial Year

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One twist on the National Park Service’s “Find Your Park” campaign has become “Find Another Park”, leading into the agency’s centennial year as concerns that record attendance numbers could overwhelm park services.

“It’s going to be an interesting year. I think we’re all a little bit nervous, to be quite honest,” Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh told National Parks Traveler. “Just speaking for our park, we’re concerned and we’re spending time this winter thinking about how we allocate our resources in terms of funding and staff.”

Back in the late 1980s, when National Park System visitation rose to a then-record 287 million, park managers lamented: “we’re loving the parks to death.”

Today’s visitation not only has shot above that 287 million figure by quite a bit, but visitation is setting records year after year.

Some parks saw 2015 visitation climb more than 40 percent over 2014 levels. With continued publicity and marketing of the National Park Service’s centennial next year, and with efforts to lure the “next generation” of park stewards and advocates into the system and to diversify the face of those visitors, visitation is only expected to grow.

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