Do you favor a $9,750,000 bond issue to invest in land conservation and working waterfront preservation and to preserve state parks to be matched by $9,250,000 in federal and other funds?
Voting in favor of bond funding for the popular Land for Maine’s Future program is more than just a feel-good affirmation of land preservation for outdoor recreation. It guarantees Mainers will have access to shorefront lands, fishing piers, unbroken forests and other important places. It also ensures a critical investment in an essential part of the state’s economic development strategy, sustaining Maine’s valuable quality of place. That quality of place, which consultants have urged Maine to retain and improve, is sought out by corporations looking to relocate, young entrepreneurs starting businesses and retirees considering a move to Maine, all of whom help prime the state’s economic pump.
That’s why voters should support Question 3.
The bond question calls for borrowing $9.75 million, which will be matched by another $9.2 million in federal and private funds. The bond money, if approved by voters on Nov. 2, will direct $6.5 million to land purchases by the Land for Maine’s Future program. The program’s board, using a carefully developed selection process, purchases land from willing sellers for conservation, water access, farmland preservation, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. Public access is guaranteed on all of the land purchases, and nearly 200 parcels have been secured in each of Maine’s 16 counties in the program’s 23-year history.
In recent years, the program has been improved to focus on smaller parcels that are important to local communities. These have included small beaches, piers for fishermen, multiuse trails and boat ramps.
Question 3 also borrows $1 million for LMF’s farmland preservation fund and $1.75 million for working waterfront purchases. Both are critical to preserve Maine’s natural resource-based economic sectors. The bond also includes $500,000 for work at Maine’s state parks and other properties managed by the state Department of Conservation. This follows a 2007 voter-approved bond that borrowed $7.5 million for capital projects in state parks, historic sites and playgrounds.
Voters have approved LMF bonds by wide margins in 1987, 1999, 2005 and 2007. These votes are not reflective of a disinterested, rubber-stamp electorate. Instead, they reflect a deep wisdom about how much we value our forests, fields, lakes, rivers, bays and ocean, and how we feel about retaining access to them for all of us.
A vote to continue this investment will pay dividends, both tangible and transcendent, for generations to come.