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State parks or Provincial parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the sub-national level within those nations which use "state" or "province" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational potential. There are state parks under the administration of the government of each U.S. state, and of some states of Mexico. The term is also used in Australia, though the distinction between state and national parks there is different. The equivalent term in Canada is provincial park. Similar systems of local government maintained parks exist in other countries, but the terminology varies.
State parks are thus similar to national parks, but under state rather than federal administration. Similarly, local government entities below state level may maintain parks, e.g., regional parks or county parks. In general, state parks are smaller than national parks, with a few exceptions such as the Adirondack Park in New York and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California.
In Australia, both state and national parks are under the administration of state governments, because the first national parks predate the federation of Australia. State parks have a lesser degree of significance and protection (for instance, they are frequently logged).
There are 6,624 state park units in the United States, according to the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). California alone has 278. There are some 725 million annual visits to the country's state parks, compared to 276 million to U.S. national parks. The NASPD further counts 41,725 miles (67,150 km) of trail, 207,063 campsites, and 7,161 cabins and lodges across U.S. state parks.
Many states include designations beyond "state park" in their state parks systems. Other designations might be state recreation areas, state beaches, and state nature reserves. Some state park systems include long-distance trails and historic sites.
The title of oldest state park in the U.S. is generally accorded to Niagara Falls State Park in New York, established in 1885. However several public parks maintained at the state level pre-date it. Indian Springs State Park has been operated continuously by the state of Georgia as a public park since 1825, although it did not gain the title "State Park" until 1931. In 1864 Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove were ceded by the federal government to California until Yosemite National Park was proclaimed in 1890. In 1878 Wisconsin set aside a vast swath of its northern forests as "The State Park" but, needing money, sold most of it to lumber companies within 20 years. The first state park with the designation of "state park" was Mackinac Island State Park in 1895, which was first a national park before being transferred to the state of Michigan.
Many state park systems date to the 1930s, when around 800 state parks across the country were developed with assistance from federal job creation programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration.
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