BOONE, Iowa—The Ledges State Park had a record year for attendance, usage and income in the 2016 calendar year. The data shows a steady increase in all sectors for the park south of Boone every year for the past five years. Andy Bartlett, Park Manager told a couple of dozen people gathered at the Boone City Hall Thursday evening, that the increases show a continued strong interest in outdoor and recreational activity by the public. He also says data shows visits by every county in Iowa and 48 of the fifty states in the past two years.
Bartlett’s data shows overall visits estimated at 525,000 during the recent calendar year. More specifically Camp Individuals were just under 15,300, Camp Guest Days were over 33,500. Camping Revenue exceeded $123,400. All the numbers are increases over previous records set in 2015.
Todd Coffelt, Iowa State Parks Bureau Chief also participated in the meeting Thursday and talked about the state parks system and funding. A portion of the operating funding comes from the legislature and the balance comes from revenue generated by the parks. He also noted that infrastructure improvements are handled separately by the legislature. Coffelt pointed out that part of the improvements planned locally will be upgrades to campsites to meet the needs of modern campers. Across the state, he said, such improvements have actually led to a reduction in the number of campsites with amenities, dropping from 5,500 to just under 4,900.
Klint Peterson, Park Ranger at the Ledges reviewed the cooperation and thanked local agencies providing service for those using the Ledges.
Bartlett also discussed the challenges faced by the staff at the Ledges. He noted the Canyon Drive and Lower Ledges Road are always susceptible to flooding. He also talked about trail safety and explained some of the things that might be done to improve safety, not only on the Lost Lake Interpretative Trail and other trails in the park as well. Volunteers and the Friends of the Ledges were also recognized for their efforts in making 2016 a successful year at the Ledges. Bartlett said more activities and events are planned this year and programming will continue to build to a planned “Parks 2020” event recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the State Park System in Iowa.