A state report finds the number of people who visited Iowa’s state parks during the past fiscal year rose 12-percent, a much larger-than-normal increase. Steve Pennington, chief of the parks bureau of the Department of Natural Resources, says favorable weather was one factor in the hike.Pennington says more people have a greater appreciation of the outdoors and the environment and a greater desire to be active with outdoor lifestyles. He says parks in the northern region of the state saw a particular jump.Pennington agrees with state tourism officials who believe Iowa is seeing a boost as more people are vacationing closer to home following last year’s terrorist attacks. He says the rise in state park visitation was regional, as was a drop.While northern Iowa saw increases, especially in the Iowa Great Lakes area of the northwest, state park visitation was steady or fell slightly in the south and southeast, in part, due to this summer’s very hot weather. Pennington says Lacey-Keosauqua State Park in Van Buren County had a particularly low year as its dam broke in May, draining the lake. Information on Iowa state parks is on the web at “www.exploreiowaparks.com”.