Testimony in Support of LD 1156, An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Promote the Design, Development and Maintenance of Trails for Outdoor Recreation and Active Transportation
Senator Rotundo, Representative Sachs, and distinguished members of the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs. I am Pete Didisheim, the Advocacy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I am testifying today in strong support of LD 1156.
I have had the pleasure of working on policy issues here at the State House for more than 25 years, and I have rarely seen such a broad-based coalition in support of anything as I’m seeing today in support of the Maine Trails Bond.
Attached to my testimony is a letter to lawmakers signed by 286 organizations, businesses, and towns from every corner of Maine.
The list includes statewide groups such as Maine Tourism Association, Teens to Trails, Maine Trails Coalition, and Maine Youth Camping Association.
And business groups such as Aroostook Partnership, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, local chambers, and Maine Outdoor Brands.
And individual businesses from L.L. Bean and the Kittery Trading Post to Flow Fold and Central Maine Powersports.
And cities and towns from Calais and Caribou to Millinocket, Greenville, Rumford, and many more.
And dozens of conservation groups, including the Environmental Priorities Coalition, Portland Trails, Maine Audubon, and land trusts from Downeast Maine to the Western foothills.
And big players in Maine’s outdoor recreation economy, such as Sugarloaf, the Maine Snowmobile Association, ATV Maine, and sporting camps from Portage to Grand Lake Stream.
And the list goes on.
And although the diversity of supporters of the Maine Trails Bond seems surprising, it’s also not that surprising at all.
The trails of Maine are near and dear to us all, for hiking, biking, snowmobiling, skiing, running, walking, and many other activities.
Our trails are part of our outdoor recreation infrastructure, but we are not investing in this infrastructure.
We want our trails to contribute to Maine’s economy and quality of life, but the state provides no significant funding for our trails.
Since 2007, the Maine Legislature and the voters of Maine have approved 12 transportation and highway bonds for a total of $1.1 billion (see attached chart). But there has never been a trails bond.
The 286 groups, businesses, and towns that already support the Maine Trails Bond are asking for your support. They are requesting that you pass this bill and send it to the November ballot, so that the voters of Maine can have the ultimate say in whether to invest their money in the design, development, and maintenance of trails for every type of use.
At a time when so many things seem to be dividing us, this bill offers a rare opportunity to unite us around something we all value – our trails, the ones we have today, and the ones we could build for tomorrow.
I appreciate this opportunity to share these remarks and would be glad to answer any questions you may have.