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Michigan DNR raising pay to lure seasonal parks workers

Woman standing in front of a state parks shelter that has a sign that reads: "Reservable shelter, inquire at park office." She's smiling and holding a broom handle.
Michigan Department of Natural Resource
Seasonal workers in Michigan's state parks answer visitor questions, make reservations and keep facilities clean.

Jobs in state parks will pay $15 per hour

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is raising pay in an effort to attract more seasonal workers at state parks.

The DNR is touting perks like flexible scheduling and appealing outdoor work areas along with the higher wages. About 400 jobs have yet to be filled for the summer.

Typically, the department hires about 1,300 seasonal workers to maintain the parks during the summer.

Starting pay normally ranges from $10.20 to $12 an hour, but that’s being upped to a $15 hourly rate.

DNR Parks and Recreation chief Ron Olson says the shortage is greatest in places with lots of competition from the commercial tourism industry, like the Straits of Mackinac area.

Remote areas are also a challenge.

"Like in the Muskallonge State Park and even Tahquamenon Falls and places that are great places to visit, and they’re heavily visited," he said. "But they’re far away from any real population centers.”

The state requires applicants to pass a drug test. Experience is desired, but training is also available.

Olson says these jobs can be a stepping stone for students considering careers in natural resources. They also can appeal to retirees.

The department shifted state parks funding to implement the pay increase.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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