The towns of Cumberland and North Yarmouth, along with three conservation groups, buy a 215-acre tract that had been endangered by a political fight over Lands for Maine’s Future bond money.
By Matt Byrne, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald news story
A coalition of private conservation groups and two towns have pooled resources to buy 215 acres of conservation land at Knight’s Pond and Blueberry Hill that were in danger when Gov. Paul LePage withheld $11.5 million in voter-approved bond money, according to a statement.
The deal between the town of North Yarmouth, Cumberland and three land trusts – the Trust for Public Land, the Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust, and the Royal River Conservation Trust — closes the $225,000 gap in funding that had been expected from the Lands for Maine’s Future bond money that was approved for the project in July 2014, but was never disbursed.
Instead, LePage said he would withhold the bond funding, which affects projects across Maine, until state legislators allowed the cutting of more timber on public land, the proceeds of which would fund a home-heating assistance program.
The boards of the Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust and the Royal River Conservation Trust voted to front the money with the expectation that the state bond money will eventually be refunded to them.
“We went all in,” Stearns said in the statement. “We are already turning to our donors and members to back us up and rebuild our financial momentum as we look toward future projects.”