TRENTON - (AP) - Officials believe higher gasoline pricesand a tough economy are driving an increase in the number ofvisitors to New Jersey's state parks.

The state Environmental Protection Department says visits havetripled since 1980, to a record 18.8 million people in fiscal 2010.

DEP spokesman Lawrence Hajna told The Record newspaper peopleare staying closer to home and taking shorter vacations.

State parks charge $5 a car on weekdays and $10 a car onweekends.

The DEP says officials have tried to maintain the same openinghours even though the number of park employees has declined 26percent over the past decade.