At the latest hearing of the State Park Investment Commission, State Park Leaders voiced funding concerns and stressed the need for investment.
Echoing the testimony of local government officials in September, leaders of Maryland’s state parks told the State Park Investment Commission about the dire need for investment. Currently, park rangers make just under $12 an hour, making retention a constant challenge.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for outdoor recreational space and the value of local, county, and state parks. As park usage increases, the added demand placed on park employees is increasingly making these low-wage jobs less desirable. “Unrealistic workloads and low wages make a career within the park service an unattractive option to future stewards…” (Maryland Matters)
Highlighting some of the same critiques that local governments brought before the commission, Chesapeake Conservancy president, Joel Dunn, said the state needs to rethink how the state funds state parks, suggesting state officials create a budget plan separate from Program Open Space, which provides funds to local government park areas.