Drought Hurting N.Y. Parks' Tourism
Fewer visitors are making it out to visit Finger Lakes State Parks in New York this month than usual. And there's something missing at the parks that's causing the drop in visitors, WETM-TV, Elmira, reported.
The parking lot at Watkins Glen State Park is packed on a beautiful Sunday. But there have been fewer cars and visitors at Finger Lakes State Parks this month than last year. The regional director of the parks says attendance is down 30 percent in July compared to last year.
"No. 1, it's been hot all summer,” said Ron Rony, the Watkins Glen State Park Manager. “Some people have already gone in and cooled off, they are moving on to other activities."
The hot, dry weather isn't just keeping tourists away; it's keeping the water away. And that might hurt tourism more than anything in an area known for waterfalls. At one of Montour Falls’ waterfalls there wasn’t much falling at all.
"There's no water flowing because of the dry season,” said Penny Brundige, a visitor to Montour Falls from Depauville, N.Y. “They show it in the pictures but there's no waterfall."
"I think the water levels have disappeared, they're down to probably 25 percent of what they're normally at for this time of year, said Rony. “So the dry spell has really had an impact."
Rony says local parks are in the "gorge business," and with some waterfalls slowing down to a trickle, it hurts attendance. Before the dry spell hit, things were looking up. Visits in May and June were up over last year. Rony helps August will bring a rebound in visitors. Plus, visitors from out of state and out of the country already have their trips planned, water or not.
"It seems to be pretty dry, but it is still a beautiful waterfall and I can imagine what it would look like with lots of water coming over it," said Debra Bowman of Olympia, Wash., about one of Montour Falls waterfalls.
"You look at the gorge and see all the formations and everything and it's gorgeous,” said Bill Whitney of Endwell, N.Y. “That's why we keep coming back every year."
The Watkins Glen park manager says a swimming pool and camping area have helped his park.