A Garrison-area state park is on the verge of another record-setting year.
Fort Stevenson State Park will likely hit a visitor count of very close to 150,000 for 2012.
Jim Olson reports the park's new marina has proven to be a big draw.
There aren't many boats left in the new marina at Fort Stevenson State Park in October. But the marina was very popular during the warmer months in 2012.
(Dick Messerly, Fort Stevenson State Park Director) "We were about 80% filled this year and a lot of the slips we didn't rent on a seasonal basis we rented out for weekends. People would come on a Friday and rent it through Sunday morning."
Park Manager Dick Messerly says the marina - built to assure lake access even in severe low-water years - is likely to be even more popular next year when predictions from the Corps of Engineers say Lake Sakakawea's level is likely to be too low to allow the old marina at Fort Stevenson to be used.
(Dick Messerly, Fort Stevenson State Park Director) "That means only five feet of water if that projection holds true starting next February so there is limited water. We need eight feet of water for sailboats so it's going to make this new marina even more popular."
Messerly says he hopes the predictions for lower water prove wrong, but if they come true, the new marina will he a Godsend. Meanwhile, the park is getting set to end the year as the most popular state park in North Dakota with almost 150,000 visitors this year.
(Dick Messerly, Fort Stevenson State Park Director) "We've been about 20% above last year and last year was a record year for us and our camper count is also up over last year so it's been a great year."
He attributes the continued record visitation to the state's good economy and a new base of population coming to the oil patch in western North Dakota.
(Dick Messerly, Fort Stevenson State Park Director) "We've seen a lot more out of state vehicles than ever before and obviously that's due to the people here for oil and that's been a part of the growth."
Next year, Messerly says the new marina will offer a second rental fishing boat and a new pontoon rental - in an effort to attract even more people to the state's most popular state park. At Fort Stevenson State Park, Jim Olson, KX News.