New York’s state parks welcomed about 3 million more visitors last year than in 2014, setting a record of 65.4 million, officials said.
Nearly 21 million people visited state parks on Long Island, an 8 percent increase over 2014, according to the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
“More and more people are discovering that New York’s state parks are home to unparalleled natural beauty and a wealth of recreational activities,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
Long Island parks were led by the 5.87 million people who flocked to Jones Beach and 3.96 million who visited Robert Moses State Park last year. In 2014, Jones Beach had 5.44 million visitors; Robert Moses 3.48 million.
Captree State Park in Babylon drew 1.17 million visitors last year, up from 1.12; Heckscher in East Islip lured 1.19 million, up from 983,000; and Sunken Meadow in Kings Park had 2.21 million, up from 2.04 million.
Park advocates saluted Cuomo for his 10-year, $900 million investment plan to restore buildings, systems, trails and boardwalks neglected for decades. Advocates also credited good weather for creating a longer park season.
Last year, $18.5 million was spent on Long Island park improvements, including the installation of solar panels at Robert Moses, restoration of Jones Beach’s West Bathhouse, and other projects.
Cuomo’s “revitalization of the parks has to be part of the reason why we’re seeing more people come,” said Wayne Horsley, the state agency’s Long Island regional director.
Helping boost park visitation was the first Jones Beach summer fireworks display in five years and less rain, at 4.41 inches below normal, according to the National Weather Service.
Brentwood State Park proved its popularity, thanks to new car counters, Horsley said. Attendance tripled last year, to 683,000.
The Montauk Point lighthouse drew 728,000 visitors, versus 817,000 the previous year.
The Montauk Downs golf course dipped in usage, with 87,000 players last year compared to 121,000 in 2014. The Bethpage course, which this year hopes to get a boost from the return of the Barclays tournament, saw 30,000 fewer golfers in 2015, statistics show.
The previous record of 62.8 million state park visitors was set 10 years ago, according to parks spokesman Dan Keefe.