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NPS draws biggest crowd ever in 2013

Living history re-enactor Patrick Haas pours out a bit of musket black powder for all to see during Encampment 2013, at English Camp, one of the Park Service’s most popular events.   - Journal file photo
Living history re-enactor Patrick Haas pours out a bit of musket black powder for all to see during Encampment 2013, at English Camp, one of the Park Service’s most popular events.
— image credit: Journal file photo

More than 60,000 satisfied visitors crossed the thresholds of the visitors centers at the San Juan National Historical Parks in 2013, the most recorded in the 47-year history of the park, according to Mike Vouri, the park’s chief of interpretation and visitor services.

This figure does not include those visitors who don’t enter the visitor centers.  Traffic counters located on the English Camp entrance drive and Cattle Point Road at the junction of Eagle Cove Drive at American Camp usually record about 250,000 visits per year.

“We knew we were experiencing heavy visitation by the number of automobiles parked along the American Camp entrance road and the volume of business in the centers at peak hours last summer,” Vouri said. “But we were most delighted about the comments we received on the quality of service provided by our staff and volunteers.”

The positive comments were substantiated by a University of Idaho Park Studies Unit survey distributed by park staff. The study showed 99 percent visitor satisfaction with staff services and 98 percent understanding of the park’s significance. Moreover, written comments consistently praised the park staff and volunteers for being helpful and knowledgeable about the park and the island.

The numbers show that 32,378 visitors were tallied at American Camp, up from 28,285 in 2012. English Camp meanwhile vaulted to 27,813 from 22,552 in 2012.

Media attention surrounding designation of the San Juan Island National Monument by the President was also a major factor. “It was huge,” Vouri said. “We found ourselves constantly explaining that our park was not really part of the monument, and that we are thrilled that those lands will be preserved in perpetuity.”

The San Juan Island National Historical Park was created by Act of Congress in 1966 to commemorate the peaceful resolution of the San Juan Boundary Dispute and Pig War crisis of 1859 between the United States and Great Britain. The park also preserves and protects more than 2,100 acres of cultural and natural resources for the benefit of future generations.

 

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