CAMDEN — Gov. Janet Mills visited Camden Hills State Park on Wednesday, June 8 to announce the launch of a $50 million initiative, through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, to rebuild infrastructure at State Parks across the state.

The governor said Maine State Parks have seen a record number of visitors. In 2021, Maine’s 48 parks and historic sites 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 15 years since they have seen any meaningful investment, resulting in deferred maintenance on roads, trail systems, and other vital infrastructure.

With this funding, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will undertake infrastructure improvements.

“Our state parks are treasures that belong in perpetuity to the people of Maine for the enjoyment and benefit of the people of Maine,” Mills said. “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.”

At Camden Hills State Park, the funding will help 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.

Mills noted that the funding would come from federal funds.

Department of Agriculture Commissioner Amanda Beal said this was historic and much-needed investment. She noted the meaning that Maine’s state parks can have for people, saying she fondly remembered hiking a mountain in Maine with her father when she was a child.

She also pointed out the success of the Visiting Artist program at the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and pointed out that the very park in which the announcement was made had been a place of inspiration to famed poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Dept. of Agriculture Commissioner Amanda Beal. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Unfortunately, the rainy weather did not cooperate for the event. Beal made light of this, saying, “The sun may not be shining, but it is a bright day.”

Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Thomas Peaco spoke of the importance of state parks in that they add to our quality of life and contribute to tourism.

Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Peaco. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Maine Outdoor Brands Executive Director Jenny Kordick said that businesses rely on Maine’s outdoor assets to inspire products.

Maine Outdoor Brands Executive Director Jenny Kordick. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Other officials attending the event included Bureau of Parks and Lands Director Andy Cutko; Maine Coast Heritage Trust Senior Public Policy Manager Jeff Romano; Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Conservation Policy Director Eliza Townsend and Kathleen Meil of Maine Conservation Voters.

State Rep. Vicki Doudera of Camden and former State Rep. Hannah Pingree also attended the event.

Rep. Vicki Doudera greets Gov. Janet Mills in Camden June 8. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Infrastructure investments will include repairing restrooms, expanding Wi-Fi, renovating visitor centers, work on bridges and roads, redesigning park entrances, and making ADA-required accommodations,

Mills also presented 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.

Gov. Janet Mills in Camden on June 8. Photo by Daniel Dunkle