AUGUSTA – In a broad display of bipartisan support, legislative leaders joined citizens, sportsmen, conservationists, farmers, businesses, and community leaders to encourage the Legislature to replenish the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program. Led by Sen. Bill Diamond (D-Windham), nearly 85 like-minded legislators co-sponsored LD 684, which would allocate $87.5 million over four years to the popular Land for Maine’s Future program. Reps. Pat Flood (R-Winthrop) and Herb Adams (D-Portland) have introduced similar bills.
“The program has spent its last dollar,” said Senator Diamond. “For more than two decades, LMF has proven to be a critical tool for protecting special places throughout the state from the north woods to Maine’s magnificent rivers to popular recreational areas in our communities to the state’s signature coastline. This program guarantees that our outdoor heritage, the very thing that defines our state and makes it special, will be protected and handed on to future generations.”
LMF has supported projects in each of the state’s 16 counties, establishing and guaranteeing public access to thousands of acres and dozens of ponds, streams, lakes and rivers for hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, biking, camping and many other recreational pursuits. Moreover, it has helped protect mountain summits, working forests and farms, salt marshes, and coastal shoreline. Since its inception, nearly 200 projects have been completed statewide and are open to the public.
“The Land for Maine’s Future program has helped protect the character of our communities,” said Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree (D-North Haven). “Through this outstanding program, Maine has shown that a partnership between the public and private sectors can not only accommodate but encourage economic growth while maintaining all that we associate with the great outdoors.”
For more than 20 years LMF has provided a strong economic boost for Maine.
“Even during difficult times when our state’s primary focus is rightfully redirected toward shorter term impactful bond proposals, it is important that our state’s leaders also maintain a visionary long-term strategy with the Land for Maine’s Future program to address the economic and recreational importance of our unique farmland, waterfront, and forested resources,” said Rep. Patrick Flood (R –Winthrop). “I believe that the People of Maine will agree with that.”
“The bipartisan support for this program clearly demonstrates its appeal and success in conserving the state’s forests, farms, trails and waterways,” said Rep. Herb Adams (D-Portland). “We look forward to continuing the program for future generation.”
Four times – in 1987, 1999, 2004 and 2007 – Maine voters overwhelmingly passed bonds allocating funding for LMF. The LMF board has 11 members, five who hold state offices and six who are private citizens appointed by the governor. The board reviews proposals from Maine citizens, municipalities, agencies and land trusts and decides which provide the greatest public benefits.
“The Land for Maine’s Future program is about making investments in Maine,” said Rep. Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan). “So many of our family traditions, recreational activities and livelihoods are tied to the landscape – our farmlands, coast, islands, lakes, mountains, forests and rivers. I look forward to encouraging my colleagues to support additional funding for LMF.”
The Maine Land Bond Coalition is comprised of more than 350 supporting organizations, including sportsmen, business leaders, citizens, health organizations, conservationists, recreational enthusiasts and environmentalists. The program has helped citizens conserve a half million acres distributed across every Maine county. That includes hundreds of thousands of acres of sustainably managed forests, 6,000 acres of farmland, a thousand miles of shorefront and well over 100 miles of multi-use trails. And the state has leveraged more in federal and private funds than it has spent.