An increased population in Maricopa County will result in a greater number of people attending the parks and less room for animals.
Maricopa County is estimated to increase to 5,000,000 persons by 2022 according to the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Demographics and Trends Analysis.
Maricopa County Parks and Recreation director, R.J. Cardin said that for the past three years Maricopa County has been the fastest-growing county in the country.
Maricopa County parks have seen a 41% increase in visitation since the Coronavirus pandemic began in March, according to Cardin.
The increased population in the county as well as new circumstances with the Coronavirus pandemic at large, calls for new protocols in place for parks and lakes in the county as well as new threats for wildlife.
The increased population will increase home development as well as other necessary buildings to help sustain the increased population. Over time, the developments have moved closer and closer to Maricopa County Parks such as White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
When the park was developed in the 1960s, there was hardly any urbanization, but now it has housing on all four sides of the mountain.
"Where we used to be a very rural park system, we're becoming more suburban in many areas," said Cardin.
Parks have seen an increased number of visitations which is a threat to the public with the Coronavirus pandemic still impacting the world.
To keep numbers lower to help limit the spread of Coronavirus, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation started blocking off every other parking space.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park in Peoria would have to close its gates by 8 or 9 in the morning because they would reach the 50% capacity cap, said Cardin.
Even though, Lake Pleasant would have less capacity the park was still able to financially stay afloat because the lake would be busy seven days a week and not just on the weekends because more people are working from home and have greater flexibility in their work schedules.
The increased population of Maricopa County doesn't just impact the park systems, but it also plays a very big role in wildlife conservation throughout the state.
An increased population causes more buildings to be done and therefore causes animal habitats to be overrun by humans and new establishments.
Arizona Game and Fish and Arizona Department of Transportation are working together to build and conserve wildlife linkages in Arizona, said Arizona Game and Fish Department Public Information Officer Tom Caden.
According to the Arizona Game and Fish website, these linkages are made to help support wildlife movement as the county continues to progress. The linkages also help decrease the number of human-animal interactions and prevent animals from destroying property as well as animal-caused accidents on roads.
Wildlife habitats are to be preserved as a result of these linkages, helping to diminish the negative impact a growing population has on animals and the environment in Arizona.
The increased population and the Coronavirus pandemic caused Maricopa County Parks to feel the increased visitation and the parks hope that the newfound knowledge of different Parks in Arizona will keep people coming back and keep park visitation number up, said Cardin.