FRITCH, TX (KFDA) - The National Park Service just released their report on the economic contributions of national park visitor spending, revealing big benefits to communities surrounding Lake Meredith.
Local businesses, organizations and the park service plan to make this year even better.
In 2017, the National Park Service said 1.3 million park visitors spent an estimated $56.5 million in local economies while visiting Lake Meredith.
Of that $12.5 million were spent at restaurants, $15.6 million at hotels, and $8.7 million in gas.
According to the park service, these expenditures supported a total of 774 jobs and $20.6 million dollars in labor income, helping out local business owners like Dave Wright.
"This year we're already taking off four or five times hotter than we did last year, opening up two months earlier," said Wright.
Visitors are essential to keep the Wright-On Bait, Tackle & Watercraft Rental afloat
"Last year on the water, we did about three times the amount of sales we had projected with the Small Business Development Center," said Wright. "This year we're expecting to triple that again. In fact, today we had folks coming in from Guymon, Oklahoma and Manhattan, Kansas to rent watercraft from us."
Organizations like Project Fritch America also hope to bring in even more people to the lake this year.
Director of Project Fritch America Silver Welch said they will have events like Movies at the Lake, their Fourth of July fireworks show and, for the first time ever, a Memorial Day weekend concert.
"Our biggest complaint for this community has been 'there's never anything to do,'" said Welch. "So by having the fireworks and by having the Memorial Day concert, that's giving our community something to do, something to look forward to locally without having to travel outside Fritch and Borger."
But it's not just the events that are bringing in visitors. Park ranger Carl Brenner said the rise in traffic at Lake Meredith can also be attributed to their rising water levels.
"We came up 13 feet last year and we're sustaining that." said Brenner. "We're just above 75 feet."
Brenner said they have new amenities for park-goers to enjoy this year in the Sanford-Yake area.
"Not only do we have 10 RV sites with electric hookups that will come online beginning in May, we should have the vendor selected for them so we'll have the reservation system and the fee structure beginning in May," said Brenner. "[Down at Sanford-Yake] we have a second dock that's going in down there. There's a 10 boat courtesy slip and a small fishing pier on the end of that. We've got another 10 boat slip that's going in next to it with a 24 by 48 fishing pier on the end of that."
Brenner said they are also looking to get a boat dock at the Blue West area.
Also, visitors will be able to reserve all watercraft rentals as well as the new RV sites at the Sanford-Yake campground online starting next week.
They hope these projects will make 2018 even more successful for local economies.