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The Pulse of Parks: A look at who visits Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Albany, NY — April 14, 2015 — Since its creation in 1993, Minnewaska State Park Preserve’s reputation for offering world-class recreational opportunities, stunning geological features and abundant natural beauty has attracted diverse users to its gates. Now, a new study spotlights Minnewaska’s role as a regional tourist destination and reveals its substantial economic contribution, while also highlighting needed amenity upgrades as the park’s popularity grows.

The study, issued by the Open Space Institute (OSI)’s Alliance for New York State Parks program, and funded through a grant from the Dyson Foundation and OSI’s own Waletzky State Parks Legacy Fund, quantifies Minnewaska’s value as an easily-accessible tourist destination for individuals and families. Significantly, 52 percent of all visitors to the park originate from outside the counties immediately surrounding Minnewaska, hailing from various locations upstate or downstate, New York City or outside the Empire State.

“For years it has been well-recognized that the park resonates positively with visitors of diverse user interests, ages and backgrounds drawn to its dramatic cliffs and gorges and spectacular carriage roads,” said Erik Kulleseid, executive director of OSI’s Alliance program. “This study truly captures the value and importance of Minnewaska. It is especially noteworthy that almost a quarter of visitors called metropolitan New York or New Jersey home, proving that this is a park worth traveling to.”

"The report demonstrates Minnewaska State Park Preserve's importance as a connection to the great outdoors to people from all walks of life,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State has made tremendous strides to promote and welcome New York residents and visitors to our State Parks—and to renew our stewardship of these special places."

The study, based on data derived from 402 surveys and  conducted over 20 days from July through September 2014, revealed that Minnewaska visitors contribute substantially to the regional economy. Between food and beverage, outdoor clothing and entertainment purchases, in all it is estimated that patrons contribute a total of $16.2 million yearly to regional shops and stores through purchases en route to and from the park.

In addition to economic and statistical data, survey-takers also recorded feedback from patrons that revealed feelings of pride towards the park and their appreciation of Minnewaska as a place to unwind. At the same time, visitors called attention to needed upgrades at the park, particularly with regard to available amenities. Top among requests for improvements at the parks were improved restrooms and water, with more than 25 percent of visitors citing these services as priorities.

Located just an hour-and-a-half drive from the heart of Manhattan, Minnewaska is  the state’s largest park preserve and its third-largest park. Through the years, OSI has had an instrumental role in the park’s success: over a 20-year period, OSI and its partners have more than doubled Minnewaska to its current size of more than 23,000 acres. The park’s features include world-class rock-climbing opportunities on the Shawangunk Ridge; sky lakes for swimming; and 35 miles of Victorian-era carriage roads, restored by OSI and its partners for biking and hiking past panoramic landscape views.

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