On Nov. 6, Maine voters will consider a $5 million bond to replenish the popular Land for Maine’s Future program.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of a program that has had a significant impact in Maine and served as a model nationwide. Since 1987, Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) has conserved working farms, forests and waterfronts that support Maine’s natural resource-based economy, as well as key tourism and recreation destinations throughout the state.
To celebrate a quarter-century of success, the Land for Maine’s Future Coalition – more than 275 organizations that support the program – today released a list highlighting the ten most memorable projects in Land for Maine’s Future’s history. The coalition includes sportsmen, businessmen, fishermen, lobstermen and farmers; as well as conservation, recreation and public health leaders ¬– all of whom see the economic benefits of Land for Maine’s Future.
“Land for Maine’s Future has proven to be a critical tool for conserving working lands and popular recreational areas throughout Maine,” said Tim Glidden, president of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. “This program guarantees that our outdoor heritage, the very thing that defines our state and makes it special, will be conserved and handed on to future generations."
Land for Maine’s Future has worked in all 16 of Maine’s counties and supported dozens of local businesses.
“Maine has shown that investing in our natural resources encourages economic growth, while maintaining all the other benefits that we associate with the great outdoors,” said Michael Tetreault, executive director of The Nature Conservancy.
Projects have included popular tourism destinations like the Appalachian Trail and Mount Kineo in Moosehead Lake, as well as coastal infrastructure like public boat launch sites, mud flats and waterfront areas that protect access for fishermen. LMF projects have fed the state’s economy by conserving community drinking water supplies, 250,000 acres of working forests, 30 working farms and 24 working waterfront properties. And more than more than a half-million acres of land that has been conserved with LMF funds over the past 25 years offers public access to countless hiking and snowmobile trails.
Question 3 asks: “Do you favor a $5,000,000 bond issue to purchase land and conservation easements statewide from willing sellers for public land and water access, conservation, wildlife or fish habitat and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing and deer wintering areas, and to preserve working farmland and working waterfronts to be matched by at least $5,000,000 in private and public contributions?”
Conserving wildlife habitat – including critical wintering areas for white-tailed deer, which attract thousands of hunters each fall – remains a major focus of Land for Maine’s Future. In 1996, about 160,000 hunters brought more than $200 million to Maine, but as deer populations drop, the recreation economy is feeling the impact.
“Investment in deer wintering areas can help restore healthy deer numbers and benefit countless other wildlife species in the northern half of Maine,” said David Trahan, executive director of The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and a former Republican state senator from Waldoboro.
Maine voters have approved LMF bonds by nearly 2:1 margins five times since it was established in 1987, which in turn, brought Maine about $100 million dollars in federal and private matching funds. For every dollar of bond money that LMF has invested, it has brought in $3 in matching funds, and $11 in benefits to Maine’s economy, according to a recent analysis completed by the Trust for Public Land.
Passage of this year’s Question 3 would position Maine to conserve habitat, working farms and forests and working waterfronts. This $5 million bond would generate at least $5 million in matching funds from other sources.
“For many of us working in natural resource-based industries, our livelihoods are tied to the lands, forests, harbors, lakes and rivers that support our activities,” said Gerry Cushman, a lobsterman from Port Clyde. “The LMF program really is about investing in Maine and future generations.”
Over its 25-year lifespan, LMF has provided a strong economic boost by:
Mount Agamenticus, 1988: Several LMF grants have funded conservation work in the 48,000-acre region encompassed by the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative. The York County region includes 40 miles of streams, supports nine communities’ drinking water and is the largest stretch of undeveloped coastal forest between New Jersey and Acadia.
Mount Kineo and Namakanta Reserve, 1990: Rising up 1,700 feet from the waters of Moosehead Lake, Mount Kineo has long been a symbol of Maine, and the Bureau of Parks and Lands now manages much of the mountain as part of the Moosehead Lake Reserve, including a campsite and several trails. More than 43,000 acres of forestland between Millinocket and Greenville, including 12 miles of the Appalachian Trail, was also purchased by the Maine Department of Conservation to create the Nahmakanta Reserve.
Grand Lake Stream, 1995: Anglers who founded the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, and other local partners, have protected several thousand acres of riverside land and nearby forest, conserving one of the state’s best trout and landlocked salmon fisheries, with several LMF grants.
Cutler Coast Reserve, 1996: More than 12,000 acres of cobble beaches, coastal forests and blueberry barrens were purchased to create a public reserve that now includes 10 miles of trails and several remote campsites on the cliffs between Cutler and Lubec, an area known as the “Bold Coast.”
Scarborough Beach State Park, 1999: One of Southern Maine’s most popular beaches, Scarborough’s white sands attract 60,000 visitors each year. The Bureau of Parks and Lands property also protects wetland areas, fragile sand dunes and Massacre Pond, a popular ice-skating destination.
Presumpscot River Preserve, 2001: Portland Trails manages this 48-acre nature preserve with a popular hiking and mountain biking trail, protected in partnership with the City of Portland.
Tumbledown Mountain, 2002: This popular Franklin County hiking destination was conserved with more than $2 million in LMF funds. The Trust for Public Land used LMF funds to help protect about 11,000 acres of trails, habitat and working forest.
Packard-Littlefield Farm, 2004: The Androscoggin Land Trust worked with owners of this family farm in Lisbon - one of LMF’s first working farm projects - to protect several hundred acres. Today, an organization called Cultivating Community leases part of the property to create opportunity for refugee and immigrant farmers.
Bremen Lobster Pound Co-op, 2009: This property began operating as a lobster pound over 80 years ago. Today, it serves 24 lobster boats, and provides income for 34 families. The revenue from the sale of the working waterfront covenant allowed renovations to multiple piers, and the construction of a building for lobster storage and clam processing, which created 15 new clam processing jobs and a market for local clam diggers to sell their catch locally.
Branch Lake, 2010: LMF funds helped the Trust for Public Land protect more than 1,000 acres of working forest in Hancock County, including 2.5 miles of shoreline. And because the project will keep much of the watershed of Branch Lake forested, the project also protects clean drinking water for the residents of Ellsworth.
To search for Land for Maine’s Future projects near you, check out an interactive map at: www.maine.gov/doc/parks/gis/LMF/index.html
Land for Maine’s Future Coalition is comprised of more than 275 supporting organizations, including sportsmen, business leaders, citizens, health organizations, conservationists, recreational enthusiasts and environmentalists. For more information, visit the Land for Maine’s Future Coalition at www.landformainesfuture.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Nature Conservancy in Maine