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Idaho parks outline plans for COVID-19 relief funds

bear lake east side id p&r
Idaho Parks and Recreation
Bear Lake State Park, East Side Day Use Area

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The Idaho Parks and Recreation Department will receive $1.3 million in CARES Act funding. The department said Monday it will use the money to repair and improve park facilities, cover increased operational expenses, and acquire equipment to maintain high-use areas.

As of October 1, visitation at Idaho State Parks set an annual record of more than 6.5 million visitors, despite a 60-day closure early in the year. That surpassed the prior annual visitation record by 100,000 visitors and there are still more than two months in the year.

Parks and Recreation Board Chairman said the COVID-19 pandemic has created an increased burden on Idaho’s 30 state parks.

“During the pandemic, people have rediscovered the outdoors as a way to safely cope with this crisis, bringing people out to play and camp in record numbers,” Black said. “That’s wonderful but is also a strain on the parks. We so appreciate the support from Gov. Brad Little and the Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC).” Most of the CARES Act funding will be used to repair and improve parking areas at four state parks, including the East Beach of Bear Lake, Thousand Springs, Priest Lake, and Farragut.

Some other funding will be used to cover operational costs, including thousands of canceled reservations for COVID-related reasons. The parks waived the standard $10 processing fee, which the department absorbed.

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