Camp sites at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk on Aug. 2,...

Camp sites at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk on Aug. 2, 2013. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

Attendance at New York State park campgrounds surged to an all-time high this year, fueled by a camping discount in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River regions, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office said Friday.

Through Columbus Day, campsites, cabins, cottages and yurts at state parks were occupied for 680,533 nights, surpassing the previous record of 663,953 nights in 2018, the office said in a news release.

On Long Island, there were 48,735 overnight stays in 2019, the office said. State officials did not respond to requests for Long Island's figures for previous years.

Total reservations this year were also up, to 213,153, surpassing the previous record of 212,358 set in 2016.

"This incredible surge illustrates how our efforts to promote and revitalize our campgrounds are working, drawing visitors and increasing tourism to the flood-affected areas of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence," Cuomo said in a statement. 

Since Cuomo announced the 50% discount Aug. 1 on fees at more than 30 campgrounds, parks and boat launches along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, those campgrounds received 10,263 new reservations. This represents about 36,000 additional visitors to a region impacted by high lake levels.

Total overnight stays at campgrounds operated by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have risen 26%, with reservations up 21%, since Cuomo took office in 2011.

During that period, the number of campgrounds increased from 65 to 68, with total campsites available increasing from 8,379 to 8,555. 

"Under the governor's NY Parks 2020 initiative, we are renewing and modernizing our facilities, and people are noticing," said Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. 

The governor's NY Parks 2020 plan is a multiyear commitment to leverage a broad range of private and public funding to invest approximately $900 million in state parks from 2015 to 2020. 

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