TOWN OF DIANA, N.Y. (WWNY) — The North Country is known for its nature and outdoor activities, and according to a state report, it’s a sector that has generated billions of dollars during the pandemic.
Heavy rain will keep most people off a hiking trail, such as Baker Woods Preserve in the city of Diana. But a pandemic could actually draw people to scenic locations.
“There was at least three or four times the number of visitors,” said Matthew Carney, a volunteer steward at Baker Woods Preserve.
This coincides with a report by the State Audit Office. The report shows that outdoor recreation activities, such as hiking, camping, boating, and fishing, generated $21.1 billion in economic activity, supported 241,000 jobs, and compensated $13.1 billion for those jobs in 2020.
Carney believes people were looking for ways to get outside and explore local spaces.
“A lot of first-time hikers, people who found us either on the internet, through word of mouth, or through hiking apps,” he said.
Outdoor recreation, like every other economic sector, has taken a hit during the pandemic, but it hasn’t declined as much as other industries.
Carney said he slowly saw more traffic on the trails during the peak of the pandemic, and it surprised him.
“One day,” he said, “we just woke up and were like, ‘Is there an event in Baker Woods that we didn’t know about?'”
Carney says the small parking lot out front filled up quickly throughout 2020, which wasn’t a problem before.
He said traffic on the trail has eased since the peak of COVID, but he still sees more people than before the pandemic.
“I think it was kind of a silver lining in that it brought a lot of people here who might never have discovered us,” he said.
What was once off the beaten path has become a convenient haven for people during the pandemic.
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