PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Use of South Dakota’s state parks and recreation areas reached new highs in 2021, while more nonresident hunters were back in the fields in pursuit of pheasants.

Officials wrapped up the year that was on Wednesday for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

Deputy director Al Nedved brought good news from the state Parks and Recreation Division.

He said a record 394,714 camping units were used, up 4%, and visitation totaled a record 8,540,702, up 3%.

Month after month saw record use at the state’s parks and rec areas, according to Nedved.

He presented a slide that showed camping use passed 200,000 units in 2003 and 300,000 in 2015.

“It was a very good year,” Nedved said. “All indications are these trends are going to stay with us for a while.”

Tom Kirschenmann’s message was upbeat, too. He is director for the state Wildlife Division.

“It was a great year from license sales,” Kirschenmann said. “Hopefully 2022 will be as strong if not stronger.”

Sales of resident small-game hunting licenses were steady while annual fishing licenses fell about 12,000, he said, while nonresident small-game hunters rose 16%.

The marketing staff for the Game, Fish and Parks Department has been meeting with the fishery office and the state Department of Tourism on plans for more promotion of fishing in 2022 to residents and nonresidents.

“They’re working on it and have things in place already,” Kirschenmann said.