Great Maryland Outdoors Act to invest millions into state park budget

Maryland is set to invest millions in its state parks later this year thanks to a new bill signed into law.

The Great Maryland Outdoors Act, passed in March, dedicates funding for the expansion of parks, maintenance and the hiring of permanent employees once the law kicks in on July 1.

Delegate Michele Guyton has supported bill from its inception and emphasized the need for children to be outdoors.

“The problems that kids are having from sitting in front of the screen — they’re not just because they’re sitting in front of a screen,” Guyton said “They’re because of what they’re not doing … What they’re not doing is going out and interacting with their natural world.”

Guyton also said the Great Maryland Outdoors Act would extend outreach to county parks and to county programs dedicated to underserved communities.

The bill aims to address infrastructure, capacity and accessibility needs as well. Up to $80 million will be used to buy land for the expansion of parks and improve transportation to and from the parks.

The new law requires that the Department of Natural Resources increase the number of full-time employees in the Park Service by 100 permanent, classified positions by July 1. The Department of Budget and Management is also required to conduct staff reviews as a part of a long-term strategic plan for the Park Service.

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