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As Americans flock to the great outdoors, more campsites have become crowded

During COVID, Americans flocked to national parks and other public lands, and they continue to do so.

That has had implications for federal agencies in Arizona and other Western states.

As America’s public lands become more crowded, some campgrounds have filled to capacity.

That can put pressure on agencies such as the Park Service, which faces a shortage of rangers with training in law enforcement.

Aaron Weiss of the Center for Western Priorities, a Colorado-based nonprofit, said the rush to spend time in the great outdoors is a mixed blessing that federal lands agencies will have to deal with.

“It’s certainly not a bad thing, but it’s something that’s a challenge for the Interior Department and the Forest Service,” Weiss said.

A report by the nonprofit says agencies will have to take increased visitation into account when they draw up land use plans in the future.

Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.