This 12 months, SDGFP has offered extra tenting stays

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MADISON, SD (KELO) — People have rented more campgrounds in South Dakota’s state parks and recreation areas this year, and that increased usage has helped the State Parks Division offset fewer visits.

That’s what the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Division heard from Al Nedved Thursday.

The department’s deputy director reported that camping revenue had increased to $13,365,527 through October. That was $1.3 million more than a year ago when it was just over $12 million.

Rentals totaled 394,001 nights, up from 392,055 at this point in 2021.

Fewer SD pheasant licenses were sold this season

Nedved said those numbers are “neck-to-neck” with the pace of 2021 and within about 700 from a new high.

However, visits fell by about 7% – 7,554,942 by October, compared to 8,158,822 at a similar time in 2021 – which Nedved attributed in part to the hot autumn weather.

Overall, Parks Division reported 10-month revenue of $23,845,329, down 1% from $24,088,321 at a similar time last year.

The commission’s chairman, Russ Olson of Wentworth, said it was “unrealistic” to expect the department to build on the high numbers of 2020, which were at least partly driven by people who have been following during the COVID-19 pandemic outside and wanted to get away.

“In the end, 2020 was a very big year for the parking system,” Nedved replied. “It was one of the greatest years we’ve ever had.”