News Release 174

DNR announces 2009 boost in visitors to Watkins Mill State Park and State Historic Site, 6 percent growth in visitors to State Parks last year

Volume 38-174 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Sue Holst
573-751-6510

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., MARCH 29, 2010 -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today that Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site in Clay County saw a 19 percent increase in visitors in 2009.  The announcement follows an earlier announcement by Gov. Jay Nixon that Missouri’s system of state parks saw an overall increase in visitors of 6 percent last year.

“Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site is just one of the many gems to be found in Missouri’s state park system,” Gov. Jay Nixon said.  “With the opportunities for inexpensive recreation and family activity that Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site provides for folks in the Kansas City area and beyond, it’s no wonder that people flocked to the park last year in growing numbers.”

The Division of State Parks reports that 532,846 visits were made to Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site in 2009. The previous year, the division recorded 447,103 visits to Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site. The 19 percent increase in visitors over the previous year at this park is reflective of a larger trend that shows the number of visitors to Missouri state parks on the upswing for the first time in a decade.

Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site is a unique facility that combines a 19th century American woolen mill and interpretation of the former Bethany Plantation with many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Tours of the Watkins house and the woolen mill, which is a National Historic Landmark, take visitors back to the 1870s era. For those seeking recreation, there is a 100-acre lake for fishing, swimming and boating plus a wooded campground, bicycle trails and picnic sites.  

On Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon noted in his remarks at the initial meeting of the Children in Nature Challenge initiative, which he created via Executive Order 10-18 on Feb. 26, that total attendance at Missouri state parks in 2009 had risen to more than 15,890,785 visitors.  This is an increase of nearly one million visitors from the 2008 attendance figure of 14,937,471.

Gov. Nixon has implemented several initiatives encouraging awareness and use of Missouri’s tremendous system of State Parks and Historic Sites.  In addition to the Children in Nature initiative, Gov. Nixon has created the State Parks Youth Corps, which will put one thousand young Missourians to work this summer on projects beautifying and maintaining state parks and historic sites.  He has also worked with the Missouri Division of Tourism to encourage people from Missouri and neighboring states to vacation at or near state parks.   

Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and State Historic Site is located at 26600 Park Road North off Interstate 35 near Lawson.  Persons requiring special services or accommodations can call the site at 816-580-3387 or the Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). For information about state parks and historic sites, visit the Web at mostateparks.com.

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