This week I was excited to announce the launch of a $50 million initiative to rebuild our state parks across Maine and to make them more accessible and more enjoyable for Maine people and visitors to Maine.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, led by our very able Commissioner Amanda Beal, maintains and operates 48 State Parks and Historic Sites across Maine – last year alone these public spaces welcomed more than 3.3 million visitors, that was a record breaking year.
On top of that, these visitors generated an estimated $100 million in economic activity for our economy, making our State Parks not only beautiful places to visit, and camp, and hike, but crucial economic engines for our communities and for our state as a whole.
Despite their growing popularity, state parks have not seen a meaningful investment in more than 15 years. That has forced the Department to defer so much-needed maintenance and upgrades on roads, and trail systems, and other vital infrastructure.
Well, this week, that all changes.
The $50 million I announced – using Federal American Rescue Plan funds from my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan approved by the Legislature – will allow the Department to undertake urgent capital infrastructure improvements to make the parks more accessible and much more enjoyable for Maine people and our visitors.
These investments are going to lead to a much more enjoyable experience in our parks and it’s going to bolster the recovery of Maine's tourism and outdoor recreation sectors from the pandemic.
The improvements the Department plans to make include things like repairing restrooms and shower facilities at campgrounds, expanding Wi-Fi, and renovating visitor centers and renovating overnight shelters.
The improvements include structural upgrades like repairing bridges and roads, redesigning park entrance stations, making ADA accommodations, and modernizing equipment at park headquarters.
They also include environmental and public safety upgrades, like fixing boat launches, refurbishing playgrounds, making sure they’re safe, restoring masonry on historic sites, upgrading septic systems, and mitigating erosion on recreational trails.
And we will make upgrades like these at parks all across the state.
I know Maine people love the outdoors as I do, and our state parks are treasures. They are treasures that belong in perpetuity to the people of Maine for the enjoyment and benefit of all people.
With this funding, we are going to ensure that our parks are worthy of the good people they serve and we’re going to make sure that they remain important economic engines for their communities in perpetuity.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.