To the Editor:

Spending time outdoors in Maine’s beautiful wild places is one of the few safe ways to get out of the house these days, with other recreation limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. But our forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains not only provide necessary respite and myriad recreation opportunities, they are also vital to our prosperity.

Outdoor recreation adds more value to the economy in Maine than in almost any other state, making up 4.2% of our GDP, double the national average. Protecting the great outdoors isn’t only about preserving Maine’s natural beauty, it’s also about protecting the 40,000-plus outdoor recreation jobs in the state, and preserving the year-on-year gains in compensation in this industry.

That’s why it’s no surprise that even in this moment of profound division, Mainers are united on the importance of protecting the lands and waters that make Maine special. Over the past 100 years, Mainers of all political stripes have worked together to conserve roughly 21% of Maine’s land base. Experts suggest another 9% is needed in the next 10 years — 30% by 2030 — an achievable goal that would help to protect for future generations the forests, lakes, and rivers that make our state an outdoor recreation job creator.

Locally, Mahoosuc Land Trust (MLT) is focusing on landscape level conservation to support achieving the above 30% by 2030 goals. MLT is contributing to this important conservation goal with its Shelburne Riverlands Project, 853 acres including 22 islands and 12 mainland properties located along 8.7 miles of the Androscoggin River.

By supporting the “Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature,” the “Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act,” and the “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act,” Senators Collins and King can continue to champion conservation at the federal level, keeping Maine beautiful and protecting our outdoor recreation jobs.

Marcel Polak

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