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Thousands of volunteers descend on State Parks for I Love My Park Day

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Albany/HV: Thousands of volunteers descend on State Parks for I Love My Park Day
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With smiles and shovels in hands, thousands of volunteers descend on State Parks as part of I Love My Park Day. Our Eva McKend has more on the annual event and what the park system means to the state economy.

STATEWIDE -- Chris Smith wants his 9 year old son to get outdoors.

"I think it sets a good example for kids. It's better than sitting on the couch all day playing video games, watching TV," said Chris Smith.

"Kids don't play outside anymore. I mean, I remember when I was growing up, I was outside all the time," he added.

Smith's family joins thousands of volunteers across New York for the 3rd annual I Love My Park Day.

The goal is for volunteers to celebrate the park system by giving back.

Participants could choose from a number of activities including planting to make their local park a better habitat for wildlife.

"This event is bringing much needed help for restoration projects. People love parks in New York. We are fortunate now that more money is going into parks for both capital improvements as well as what we are doing in the natural resources area," said Robert O'Brien, New York State Parks Invasive Species Control Director.

There are more than 57 million visitors to New York State Parks every year.

The parks aren't just a scenic treat, they are a tremendous economic asset to the state.

"Our attendance and visitation continues to go up annually. Last year was our most heavily visited season," said Eric Humphrey, manager at the Minnewaska State Park Manager.

Smith was one of those visitors, traveling from Westchester County.

He used to go hiking in the Ulster County region when he was a kid and now along with little Gianni Huezo's mother wants the 9-year-old Gianni Huezo to appreciate the park.

"I really want him to have the experience of giving back," said Shannon Huezo.

"I wear a hard hat everyday. I'm in construction and I think it's cute to see him in a hard hat," said Smith.

The parks commissioner says the state will invest $90 million of New York Works funds to continue to revitalize the state's park system.

The parks employ about 20,000 New Yorkers each year.

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