N.M. Memorial Day State Park Visits Off 40.6%

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June 17, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

Perhaps nothing would boost tourism in New Mexico like a series of rainy days, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Visitors at state parks over Memorial weekend declined 40.6% from last year, to just under 315,000. Tommy Mutz, director of New Mexico's 35 state parks, said unrelenting drought played a part in the drop-off.

With fewer visitors, revenue at state parks fell by 41.3%, to a weekend total of about $157,000, Mutz said.

Signs of the drought are easy to spot, even without examining the bottom line.

Conchas Lake is at its lowest level since 1940, when readings began. Conchas, in San Miguel County, is one of four state lakes that are closed to motorized boating. Clayton, Morphy and Storrie are the others.

Paddle crafts are still allowed, one sign that the hot, dry weather has not dampened every opportunity for outdoor recreation.

Dark brown areas show the most severe drought-ridden areas of New Mexico. Map courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

"It's not all doom and gloom. There's still a lot to do," Mutz said one recent day as he assessed the drought's effects.

Twelve state lakes are open for motorized boating. That is an improvement of one since 2012.

"The monsoons didn't kick in last year," Mutz said.

Strange as it may sound to tourists, he is rooting for rainy days.

"I hope the monsoons deliver a little something this year. But after three or four years of good drought, we're not going to see things change in a hurry," Mutz said.

One of his pitches is that water is not the centerpiece of every state park.

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