Plan to upgrade parks across Maine represents first meaningful investment in park infrastructure in 15 years; comes at a time of record visitation and aims to improve experience for Maine people and visitors
CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK – Governor Janet Mills today announced the launch of a $50 million initiative through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to rebuild infrastructure at State Parks across Maine to make them more enjoyable and accessible for Maine people and visitors.
The Governor’s significant investment in Maine State Parks comes as a time when they have experienced a record number of visitors. In 2021, Maine’s 48 parks and historic sites – which are operated and maintained by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) – welcomed more than 3.3 million visitors, who are estimated to have generated more than $100 million in revenue for Maine’s economy.
Despite the popularity of the parks, it has been more than fifteen years since they have seen any meaningful investment, which has forced DACF to defer much-needed maintenance on roads, trail systems, and other vital infrastructure that make the parks accessible and enjoyable for Maine people and visitors.
With funding from the Governor’s Jobs Plan, DACF will undertake urgent capital infrastructure improvements to help address major safety and stewardship concerns, enable the parks to accommodate continued growth in visitation, and bolster the recovery of Maine's vital tourism and outdoor recreation sectors.
“Our State Parks are treasures that belong in perpetuity to the people of Maine for the enjoyment and benefit of the people of Maine,” said Governor Janet Mills. “With this funding, we will undertake the important and long-neglected work of rebuilding our parks as part of our effort to improve the experience they offer and to secure their place as vital economic engines in communities across Maine.”
The Governor made the announcement at Camden Hills State Park in Camden. Renowned for its panoramic view of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay, Camden Hills State Park provides year-round access to outdoor activities, outstanding hiking trails, and camping. DACF plans to use the funding to pave the summit road to Mount Battie, improve drainage, replace or renovate trails to improve ADA access, and expand electric hook-ups and water access in the campground.
The Governor was joined by DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal, Bureau of Parks and Lands Director Andy Cutko, Maine Outdoor Brands Executive Director Jenny Kordick, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Thomas Peaco, Maine Coast Heritage Trust Senior Public Policy Manager Jeff Romano, Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Conservation Policy Director Eliza Townsend, and Maine Conservation Voters Director of Policy and Partnerships Kathleen Meil.
“Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan makes a historic and much needed investment in Maine’s State Parks,” said DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. “With this funding, we will be better equipped to steward these treasured resources and improve accessibility, while supporting jobs in communities throughout Maine and other economic opportunities that our State Parks provide.”
“It has been nearly 15 years since the last meaningful investment in Maine’s State Parks,” said Andy Cutko, Director of DACF’s Bureau of Parks and Lands. “We’re thrilled that Governor Mills and the Legislature recognized the immeasurable benefits of State Parks for Maine’s environment, our economy, and our public health.”
“Maine’s outdoor industry applauds this significant and much needed investment in our State Parks,” said Jenny Kordick, Executive Director of Maine Outdoor Brands. “This funding will support trails, campsites, and other infrastructure, further improving a system of parks that already attracts millions of people each year. State Parks serve as part of the foundation for Maine’s $3 billion outdoor economy, helping to make our state an attractive place to live and work while also generating visitor spending that helps create jobs across the state.”
“State Parks add significantly to our quality of life for Knox County residents, as well as supporting our local economy by attracting tens of thousands of visitors to our region each year,” said Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Thomas Peaco. “We applaud this important investment in capital improvements for our State Parks.”
The funding through the Jobs Plan is expected to benefit parks across the state. Infrastructure investments will include:
- enhancements to the visitor experience, such as repairing restrooms and shower facilities, expanding Wi-Fi, and renovating visitor centers and overnight shelters.
- structural upgrades and deferred maintenance, such as addressing structural deficiencies in bridges and roads, redesigning park entrance stations, making ADA-required accommodations, and modernizing equipment at park headquarters.
- public safety and environmental management improvements, such as upgrading boat launches, refurbishing playgrounds to meet safety standards, restoring masonry on historic sites, upgrading septic systems, and mitigating erosion on recreational trails.
The investment in State Parks builds on Governor Mills’ strong conservation record. The Governor and the Legislature reinvigorated the Land for Maine’s Future Program with a $40 million investment through the most recent biennial budget. That funding has allowed the for Maine’s Future Board to approve a total of 25 new projects in the last year with additional projects focused on conserving working lands expected later this year.
Later today, Governor Mills will visit Rockland Recovery Center and then she will personally present Jon Powers of North East Mobile Health Services in Rockport with the Governor’s Award. The award is conferred for exceptional contribution to the EMS system at the state, national, or system-wide level to a candidate who has demonstrated involvement and contributions in multiple areas of EMS activity, such as system development, education, administration, public education, or quality/process improvement.
The Governor’s events in Knox County come as she travels across the state. The Governor has visited Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, Kennebec, York, Somerset, Androscoggin, and Lincoln counties.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.
It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.