A new plan to spend $50 million on enhancing state parks across Maine is the first significant investment in the infrastructure for more than 15 years, according to the state.
This investment comes during a period of a record number of visits to the 48 state parks and historic sites, according to a report.
Gov. Janet Mills announced the initiative last Wednesday in a speech at Camden Hills State Park, saying that funds from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan will pay for the upgrade.
“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,” she said in a news release.
At the park in Camden, money will go to pave the summit road to Mount Battie, improve drainage, replace or renovate trails to improve accessibility and expand the campground electric hook-ups and water service.
“This funding will support trails, campsites, and other infrastructure, further improving a system of parks that already attracts millions of people each year,” Jenny Kordick, executive director of Maine Outdoor Brands, said.
“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.”
In 2021, parks and sites operated by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry drew more than 3.3 million visitors, estimated to have generated more than $100 million in revenue for Maine’s economy.
However, a lack of significant investment over the past 15 years has forced the department to defer maintenance on roads, trail systems, and other infrastructure.
The new infrastructure investments will include enhancing the visitor experience, such as repairing restrooms and shower facilities, expanding Wi-Fi, and renovating visitor centers and overnight shelters.
It will also have structural improvements and deferred maintenance, like addressing structural deficiencies in bridges and roads, redesigning park entrance stations, making accessibility improvements, and modernizing equipment at park headquarters.
Lastly, the plan will also address 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.
This article originally appeared on MaineBiz.