BOISE, Idaho (KLIX)-Idaho State Parks will get close to $1.3 million in COVID-19 relief funds for parks hit by increased use during the summer.

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation announced earlier this month that most of the funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act  will go to help repair and improve parking areas at four specific parks including Box Canyon at Thousand Springs near Wendell. The other areas are at Priest Lake, Farragut, and Bear Lake.

This year the Idaho State Parks system has seen had a record increase in attendance as the pandemic hit the state, even with a two month shutdown. According to Idaho Parks and Recreation, as of October 1, about 6.5 million people visited Idaho parks this year, about 100,000 more people than in 2019.  “During the pandemic, people have rediscovered the outdoors as a way to safely cope with this crisis, bringing people out to play and camp in record numbers,” Pete Black, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board said in a prepared statement. “That’s wonderful but is also a strain on the parks. We so appreciate the support from Gov. Brad Little and the Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC).”

Other portions of the money will cover the increase in costs linked to operations during the outbreak, which includes the canceled reservations during the spring and the waved $10 processing fee that the department absorbed. Remaining funds will purchase cleaning equipment to disinfect heavily used areas.

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