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Virginia Celebrates Its Parks' 75th Birthday

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A view of Shenandoah River State Park, one of Virginia's state parks.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vastateparksstaff/3489146593/
A view of Shenandoah River State Park, one of Virginia's state parks.

During the Great Depression, Virginia became the first state in the nation to launch its own park system in 1936.

It has grown from six to 35 parks, and state parks director Joe Elton says the equivalent of Virginia's population visits them annually.

In 2010, there were 8.1 million visits, 1 million overnight visits, and roughly $189 million of economic impact," Elton says.

Elton added that hiking, camping, and nature observation are the most popular activities, along with more than 13,000 interpretive programs.

A new "75 Days of Summer" promotion will mark the anniversary, with free parking in mid-June, birthday cake at all parks June 18, and a new game from the Virginia lottery.

It will also include daily Web and social media-based contests, a photography competition, and other special events.

NPR

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