AUGUSTA — Rain or shine, all Maine residents will get free access for one day next week to all Maine state parks and historic sites.

The annual “Maine Day” at the parks and historic sites will take place Saturday, Aug. 1. The free-access day is done as an expression of thanks from the Bureau of Parks and Lands, under the Maine Department of Conservation, to the people of Maine.

“While Maine’s treasured state parks and historic sites are revered the world over, they are most appreciated by our residents and are key to the quality of life that makes Maine stand out as a place to live,” Gov. John E. Baldacci said. “Maine Day gives all residents the opportunity to revisit favorite spots and explore new ones.”

“These parks belong to the people of Maine — they belong to you,” Commissioner Patrick McGowan of the Maine Department of Conservation emphasized. “With the support of Gov. Baldacci, we are opening the parks and historic sites for one day to all Maine people.

“I urge everyone to go to the Bureau of Parks and Lands Web site and find a place they would like to visit with their families on Maine Day,” he said. “It will be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a unique place and to make family memories.”

Maine has 47 state parks and historic sites under BPL’s management. More than 2.2 million people visit the state parks and historic sites each year, generating about $100 million for the state’s economy. The state parks include spectacular vistas, salt and freshwater beaches, boat landings, numerous trails used for hiking, biking, equi-treking, ATVing and snowmobiling and 12 campgrounds, with lake-front and ocean-front sites.

The state parks and historic sites also offer camping programs, interpretative and nature programs, historical and archaeological activities and museums.

In November 2007, about 63 percent of Maine voters approved a $7.5 million bond that has been used to upgrade facilities at a number of parks. The funding has been used for projects including six new playgrounds; new shower houses and toilet facilities at several state campgrounds; new bathhouses at Popham Beach State Park; new group pavilions; restoration at several historic sites, including Fort Popham and Eagle Island State Historic Site; and improved accessibility under the American With Disabilities Act, including new campsites.

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