The Land for Maine’s Future Program
Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) is Maine’s most successful and popular land conservation program.
The program has helped fund more than 300 projects, which conserve Maine lands that have exceptional natural or recreational value or support Maine’s heritage industries of farming, fishing, and forestry. Roughly 90% 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.
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.
In 2021, after nearly 10 years without new funding, the LMF program was appropriated $40 million in state funding. Remarkably, Maine State Parks, which had a $50 million maintenance backlog and hadn’t built a new campground in 40 years, received $50 million through the American Rescue Plan Act. These funds will have a meaningful impact on conservation and stewardship efforts throughout the state. The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) is thankful to LMF champions like Senator Cathy Breen of Cumberland and Representative Patrick Corey of Windham as well as the support of Governor Mills for helping achieve these victories for Maine’s public lands.
NRCM has helped to lead a coalition of dozens of businesses, associations, and organizations working for funding for the LMF program. And our work has paid off, as LMF has contributed to the purchase of more than 600,000 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 and 25 working waterfront sites.
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, businesses, 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 LMF 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 LMF 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
- 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 lands for conservation, recreation, carbon sequestration and storage, and wildlife habitat.
Banner photo: Tumbledown Mountain by Bill Amos