By The Associated Press wire report
AUGUSTA – Land conservation advocates said Tuesday that $25 million a year is needed to fund the Land for Maine’s Future Program, which has conserved 445,000 acres over the past two decades but has run out of money for new projects.
Members of both parties say they support new funding for the program, which was authorized by voters in 1987. Several bills have been submitted, requesting amounts ranging from $40 million to $95 million over the next few years.
Supporters of the LMF program said Tuesday that $25 million per year is needed for the program, which draws down federal funding and private donations.
Senate Majority Leader Elizabeth Mitchell, D-Vassalboro, said that for every dollar the LMF has spent since 2000, $4 has been received from federal agencies and private donors.
Republican Sen. Karl Turner of Cumberland warned that time is running out to protect some of the most outstanding open spaces in southern Maine, where he said “sprawl is an everyday threat.”>/p>
Some of the Land for Maine’s Future’s recent conservation efforts include the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Sebago Headwaters Preserve in Bridgton, Schoodic Bog in Sullivan, additions to Camden Hills State Park and hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails in Aroostook County.
The conservation bonds are among long-term borrowing packages being proposed for a wide range of programs this legislative session.
The University of Maine System has identified needs for $130 million in bonds for classrooms, laboratories and other capital improvements. Proponents of riverside developments have called for $25 million in borrowing, a $60 million transportation facilities bond has been proposed and a $55 million bond for research and development in the state’s marine resources industries is being sought.
Gov. John Baldacci has not finalized his bond package.
Bond issues must win a two-thirds vote of approval in order to be sent to voters for authorization.