The Maine Legislature has an opportunity to achieve meaningful land conservation opportunities in 2020 by passing LD 911, the Land for Maine’s Future Bond. This would be good news for our economy, sportsmen and Maine people.

Rep. Patrick Corey

Rep. Dennis Keschl

That’s the message we want to convey as the legislative session ramps up in the coming weeks. As sportsmen, supporters of our local land trusts and conservationists, we know how important this funding is. We also convey this message as Republican lawmakers who care about the state’s economy and environment.

Our 26th president of the United States was Republican Theodore Roosevelt. Perhaps our nation’s most ardent supporter of natural resource conservation, he said, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.” Maine has a chance to put our best foot forward on conservation before the 129th Legislature adjourns.

Last year, both of us served with State Sen. Cathy Breen and a variety of diverse stakeholders on the Land Conservation Task Force — a group chaired by Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Executive Director David Trahan and Tim Glidden, president of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. We focused on how to best meet the conservation needs of Maine people. The process solicited testimony from panelists and task force members representing outdoor recreation, private landowners, natural resource-based industries, public health, agriculture, conservation and state and local governments.

The end result, after a great deal of deliberation and public participation, was a comprehensive set of recommendations and action items to be considered and acted upon by Maine’s executive and legislative branches, the conservation community, and our towns and citizens.

The Task Force’s third recommendation is a critical one. It reads, “Revive funding for land conservation and ensure that Land for Maine’s Future can effectively meet the challenges of the next generation.” The time has come to revitalize LMF which has traditionally and continually crossed constituent ideologies to protect and enhance varied components that make Maine the place that we call “home.” This valuable conservation program has not been funded since 2010.

Revitalizing LMF means being bold and providing stable funding in the coming years. Not just this biennium, but beyond. This will ensure the program can make vital investments to expand Mainers’ ability to connect with the place that we call home.

LMF manifests itself in two important ways. One, the programs speaks to Mainers’ sense of adventure through recreational opportunities like hiking, biking, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting and birdwatching — among other activities. Two, it protects our historical, current, and future forest products, agricultural, and commercial fishing industries through the conservation of working lands and waterfronts.

Additionally, at a time when recreational access to private land is such an important priority and focus for Maine, LMF provides us with an outlet for every Maine citizen to enjoy the great outdoors. LMF lands are owned by and available to all of us.

LD 911 has been cosponsored by over 100 legislators — Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. There is no question that it will ultimately be modified to a number that makes sense for our state’s finances. We look forward to working with our colleagues, Gov. Janet Mills, and others to achieve positive results. But no matter what the final number is, we must strive to ensure that this legislation, and ultimate bond package, allows communities, land trusts, and other partners the ability to move forward on critical projects and provide certainty that conservation funds will be available well into the future.

As the ultimate stewards of our state, do we not have the responsibility to pass our sense of place forward to future generations?

We believe we do and ask for the public’s support on LD 911 so that the Land for Maine’s Future Program can ensure we do just that.

Rep. Patrick Corey represents House District 25 . He lives in Windham. Rep. Dennis Keschl represents House District 76. He lives in Belgrade.


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