Jan. 19, 2012
Gov. Martin O’Malley on Friday announced nearly $23 million in the proposed FY2013 capital budget for state park and other public land projects. Included in the budget is $150,000 for trail construction for state parks located in Garrett County, and another $150,000 for western Maryland recreational access and trail restoration.
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“Today, we’re proposing to invest $22.7 million from our capital budget to make much-needed improvements to our state parks – an investment that will support nearly 300 jobs in our state, help us make our parks more sustainable, and support our thriving tourism industry,” O’Malley said when he made the announcement at Sandy Point State Park. “Our state parks are tremendous economic engines in our state, with a $650 million annual impact on our local economies, a great resource for Maryland families, and a big part of why our tourism industry remains so strong even in tough times.”
The funding includes more than $14 million in enhancements from the governor’s capital budget, in addition to $8.7 million derived from the Department of Natural Resources annual transfer tax allocation for a diverse set of projects to improve infrastructure, “green” the state’s parks, and protect the Chesapeake Bay.
“I applaud Governor O’Malley for making this critical investment in our public lands during these difficult financial times,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “This improvement effort recalls the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which built many of Maryland’s state parks, creating jobs, ‘greening’ public lands as conservation models, and inspiring millions of visitors with better places to enjoy our state’s natural beauty and unique heritage.”
Under the leadership of O’Malley, the Maryland Park Service has embarked on a system-wide commitment to green its 66 state parks – which host more than 10 million visitors each year – as models of sustainability and conservation best practices. Strategic actions to date have focused on energy improvements, new state-of-the-art green building design and construction, sustainable trails, and recycling, as well as environmental restoration, including reforestation and stormwater management improvements to help the bay.
In addition to providing recreation opportunities for citizens and visitors, state parks provide summer employment and green jobs training for at-risk youth through the Governor’s Conservation Jobs Corps, which has graduated 820 young people since 2008. In 2010 their work on maintenance, landscaping and construction jobs saved the state an estimated $2.7 million, according to the governor’s office.
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