MICHIGAN, USA — As we approach summer, many are looking forward to spending time outside at our state parks. But right now, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources doesn't have the full staff it needs to properly maintain them.
The DNR typically likes to have more than 1,300 seasonal employees during peak visiting months to Michigan state parks.
Right now, it has just over 700 of those short term workers.
"It makes it more difficult," says Ron Olson, chief of the DNR's Parks and Recreation Division. "The supply of workers is just not what it was like three, four or five years ago."
According to Olson, they lost a big chunk of employees during the pandemic that still haven't returned.
"We had retired individuals that worked for us that didn't want to come back because of the potential exposure," he says.
And they are also struggling to attract college-age employees with low wages.
"We pay $10.20 an hour to start and then it goes up from there," says Olson. "Up past $11, up to $12 for a returning third year person."
Olson says they are working on ways to bump pay to $15 an hour.
So, what will be missing with that many positions unfilled? Anything from mowing grass and maintaining hiking trails, to greeting visitors and managing boat launches.
"It depends on their skill and sets and abilities," explains Olson. "But it's just a kind of a conglomerate of activities that they get involved with."
And he says that can be taxing on both the DNR's wallet and its employees.
"We do sometimes then resort to overtime, which is expensive," Olson explains. "And it adds time on to the staff that are already there. And it can be tiring for them."
If you want to help out, you still can. Seasonal job openings with the DNR can be found online by clicking here.
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