1 of 2
Tom Smart, Deseret News
A cowboy cracks his whip to round up bison in October at Antelope Island State Park. The state park raised $774,284, the most money in its recorded history, during 2009.

FARMINGTON — Antelope Island State Park had a good year.

Not only did more people visit the island in 2009 than the previous year, but the state park received the most revenue it has ever recorded.

The 273,618 visitors meant the park received $774,284 in 2009, up from $716,379 in 2008, said Ron Taylor, the park's manager for the past eight years.

And that was without the $150,000 the island's marina normally receives each year in fees charged to Utah's brine shrimp industry and sailboats that couldn't use the marina in 2009 because of low water.

Taylor attributed part of the growth in revenue and attendance to the annual Antelope Island Balloon and Kite Stampede, which featured hot-air balloons and giant professional kites. The annual bison roundup also is one of the island's premier events.

"What that shows me, as a park manager, is that we have a pretty healthy program," Taylor said.

About 120 attendees of the National Parks and Recreation Association conference last year in Salt Lake City visited Antelope Island during an off-site tour. Taylor said many remarked that the island visit was the highlight of the conference — and previous conferences.

A group of parks delegates from Israel said they were impressed with how clean the island is, Taylor said last week during a meeting of the Friends of Antelope Island.

The Friends of Antelope Island is a nonprofit group dedicated to raising awareness of Antelope Island, raising funds not provided by the Legislature and helping to promote prudent development on the island, which sits west of Davis County in the Great Salt Lake.

On Wednesday, the group outlined some of its plans for 2010 to augment the visitor experience on the island.

This year, the group plans to help with the construction of a boat display at the island's marina that will include a commercial brine shrimp boat and a sailboat to highlight two of the lake's major uses.

The group also is working on building a history of the island through pictures and writing, and will be seeking new benefactors to help with funding for projects, activities and events, such as the annual Antelope by Moonlight bike ride.

The board is seeking new members who are passionate about the island, said board president Don Leonard. Board members are asked to attend meetings, work on fund raising and promote the island. Anyone interested can contact Leonard at 801-560-1900.

e-mail: [email protected] twitter: desnewsdavis