Imagine a son or daughter unlocking the box to uncover the stamp and then stamping the family’s passport. Visiting all Maine’s parks could become a quest. Participants who accumulate stamps can win park-related prizes, such as a water bottle, or free camping. If they visit them all they would earn a free season vehicle pass.
“It’s a wonderful idea – good for you, good for the economy and good for the state,” said Governor Baldacci. “I often tell people, we don’t appreciate enough the hidden jewels we have in our state. Right in our backyards, we have the Disneyland of natural resources.”
It’s those backyard parks that have built found memories across the state that last a lifetime.
“My grandparents, parents and brothers and sisters would go to, what used to be the Dorothia Dix Park, outside of Bangor,” said the Governor. “We’d have a picnic and then play baseball. There was a brick wall that we pretended was the center field wall at Fenway. If we hit a ball over the wall we were homerun kings. Today, Maine has hit a homerun with this program.”
Commissioner Eliza Townsend of the Maine Department of Conservation (DOC) came up with the idea when she was at a park and some visitors asked her if she could stamp their passport. She soon discovered that they were members of a group that collects stamps in special passports at lighthouses across the nation.
DOC started a Take it Outside program three years ago to encourage families to take their children to parks, and to participate in outside activities more to be come healthier. This program works along side it.
About 75,000 Maine State Parks Passports have been printed for distribution with help from the various sponsors without state funds. There are 13 partners and sponsors, which were acknowledged.
Will Harris, director of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, said, “The Passport adds some more fun to a day out in a park, and encourages far more visitation.”
With the Baldacci Administration protected lands in Maine have tripled from six percent to eighteen percent. Last year more than 2.3 million people visited Maine state parks, and attendance is expected to increase this year— the Maine state parks 75th anniversary.
The parks have an economic impact of $100 million annually for the state.
Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands;
Maine Office of Tourism;
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthy Maine Partnerships;
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation;
Wicked Joe Coffee;
Kittery Trading Post;
Friends of Maine State Parks.
Information about the Maine State Parks Passport is available at: http://www.parksandlands.com
Range Park’s Manager Gordeen Skolfield stamps Governor Baldacci’s Maine State Parks Passport.