During The Pandemic, 'The Inside Was Closed.' So Mainers Went Where It Was Open

Twelve months into the global coronavirus pandemic and Mainers continue to navigate remote work, vaccinations, Zoom school and isolation.

But they’ve also been looking, hopefully, out the window. Because while it was a big year for takeout and life behind the screen, for the first time in a while, it was also a victory for the Great Outdoors.


“The inside was closed,” says Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands Director, Andy Cutko with a laugh. “Restaurants were closed, movie theaters were closed, and so when the inside is closed, and the outdoors is open — people just came out in droves.”

For the first time, yearly visits to Maine’s state parks topped 3 million, and both day-use sites and campsites saw record high usage.

In fact, so much picnicking and paddling went on that some parks had to close down due to overcrowding. And Cutko says it seems that people are ready for more.

“In the first week of taking campground reservations in February, our reservations were up 70% from last year. And we processed more than 7,000 camping reservations just in the first week this year, and those numbers just sort of blow away prior years,” he says.

All this interest in Maine’s woods and waters is a big relief to the state’s $3 billion outdoor industry.

Jenny Kordick, executive director of Maine Outdoor Brands, a nonprofit alliance representing Maine’s outdoor organizations and businesses, spoke with Maine Public host Jennifer Mitchell about the trend.

This interview has been edited for clarity.






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