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Increased pay rate helps Michigan DNR with staffing woes

 This campsite can be found in Muskegon State Park.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
This campsite can be found in Muskegon State Park.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it's optimistic about meeting staffing needs for the summer.

DNR State Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson said the department came close to reaching hiring goals last year after raising the base rate of pay to $15. He said one reason why the department wasn’t able to fill all positions was because of scheduling challenges that have since been resolved.

Olson attributes this summer's positive outlook to a surge in inquiries. He said around 2,500 people have sent emails and texts about summer positions.

“I guess it’s a little too early to tell, you know, we’ll know more…when we get [to] late March and early April if things are going to look like we're going to fill out our complement, but things are pointing in the right direction,” he said.

Olson adds the department boosted their social media efforts as well to attract more applicants. He said the DNR aims to hire around 1,300 people for the summer.

As for visitor turnout to parks, he expects numbers to continue leveling off after 2021’s record breaking year.

“People are starting to migrate to do other things, more traveling elsewhere,” he said. “This year will be interesting to see how that goes but the indicators are right now that it will stay at a higher level than in 2019, but there’ll be more leveling off [from 2021],” Olson said.

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Melorie Begay