New Funding for Land for Maine’s Future and Maine’s State Parks
Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) is Maine’s most successful and popular land conservation program, but it has not received any new funding since 2012. At the same time, our State Parks, which saw record levels of visitors in 2020, are in desperate need of improvements, with an estimated $50 million maintenance backlog.
During the 2021 legislative session, both LMF and State Parks received bipartisan support from Maine lawmakers and Governor Janet Mills. The funding consists of:
- $40 million for LMF over 4 years in the budget signed into law on July 1.
- $50 million for state park maintenance in Governor Mills’ American Rescue Plan Act funding distribution. Lawmakers are slated to vote on that plan in July.
We need to reinvest in these popular programs to support local farming, fishing, forestry, and tourism businesses that rely on Maine’s natural resources, and expand access to public lands and waters for all Mainers and visitors to our state. Investing in public lands has never been more important because of increased demand for Maine real estate and growing popularity of local parks and trails due to the pandemic.
Download our LMF fact sheet (PDF) to learn more.
In spring 2019, the Maine Land Conservation Task Force released recommendations to the Legislature and Governor Mills' Administration about the future of LMF and land conservation in Maine. Read the Task Force’s report.
Maine’s Most Successful Conservation Program
Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) helps protect Maine lands that have exceptional natural or recreational value and should be permanently protected. More than 92 percent of Maine land is privately owned, and development pressures have never been greater. Public access for traditional recreation and other uses is losing ground. Given these changes, Maine could lose many of the natural landscapes that Mainers and visitors treasure and that are essential to our economy and way of life. In 1987, Maine voters approved a $35 million bond that led the state to create the Land for Maine’s Future program. Since then, Maine voters have consistently approved land bonds— funding was replenished in 1999, 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2012.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine has helped to lead a coalition of 275 businesses, associations, and organizations working for funding for the LMF program. And our work has paid off, as LMF contributed to the purchase of more than 580,000 acres of land or easements from willing sellers. These lands include more than 1,200 miles of shorefront and 332,000 acres of working forestland, and habitat important for wildlife for breeding, wintering, and migration. LMF-protected lands also include entire islands as well as more than 40 working farms.
The LMF program works successfully with a wide range of partner groups (see below) to identify and purchase land and is strongly supported by outdoor enthusiasts, sportsmen, fishermen, clammers, conservationists, business people, municipalities, and citizens throughout the state. Since 2000, LMF has garnered millions in private matching funds for every dollar expended. NRCM continues to push for funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program to protect public access to Maine’s most beautiful and significant natural places. Together, we can ensure that LMF continues to set the stage for our children and grandchildren. The Land for Maine’s Future program works to identify and purchase lands that guarantee public access. Many of these preserves are established in cooperation with nearly 100 land trusts working in communities across Maine. Municipalities also play an important role, as do the following groups:
- American Farmland Trust
- Appalachian Mountain Club
- Forest Society of Maine
- Gulf of Maine Coastal Ecosystems Program
- Land Trust Alliance
- Maine Coast Heritage Trust
- Maine Coast Protection Initiative
- Maine Department of Agriculture
- Maine Land Trust Network
- Maine Natural Areas Program
- Parks and Reserved Lands of Maine Department of Conservation
- The Conservation Fund
- The Nature Conservancy
- The Trust for Public Land
- Wildlife Management Areas of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program
Conserving public access to special places is important to the mission of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. We will continue to push to ensure funding for LMF and its role in protecting Maine’s way of life.
Banner photo: Tumbledown Mountain by Bill Amos