AUGUSTA, Maine — If there’s a Maine Loon License Plate on your vehicle, you’re supporting conservation and wildlife efforts in Maine. If there’s a Maine Loon License Plate on your vehicle, you also get free admission this weekend to all Maine state parks and historic sites.
As a way to say “thank you” to Maine drivers who have purchased loon plates, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL), under the Maine Department of Conservation, will open up the state’s 48 state parks and historic sites this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, to free day use for all vehicles bearing the distinctive plates.
“The call of the loon — and consequently, the Maine Loon License Plate — captures so much of what the nature means to Maine people, from the coast to our most remote ponds,” Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley said. “It reminds us of the precious and fragile quality of place we love. We are grateful to all Maine residents who purchase loon plates and support Maine conservation efforts.”
“Maine loon plate holders know that they are helping the future of the state when they purchase one of these special plates,” Will Harris, BPL director, said. “Opening our parks and historic sites for free day use for loon plate holders is one way we can show our appreciation for their support. We hope everyone will have a great, fun-filled weekend at our state parks.”
Since the program’s inception by the Maine Legislature in 1993, more than $17 million in loon plate proceeds has gone to the Maine Department of Conservation and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W).
New loon plates cost $20, while renewal is $15. The plate is available in four types: disability, motor home, trailer, and commercial loon plates. Out of that initial fee $8.40 goes to BPL; $5.60 goes to MDIF&W; and $6 goes to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Loon plate funds help BPL maintenance and operations and are an important part of conservation funding, Harris pointed out. Loon plate holders receive a tangible benefit from their plate purchase and the free day-use weekend, as admission to the Maine state parks and historic sites for the two days by vehicle passengers easily can offset the cost of a loon plate, he said.
BPL is expecting to receive about $425,000 for fiscal year 2011 from the special license plates. Loon plate funding has helped to replace the group shelter at Damariscotta Lake State Park, which opened for use this park season, and to replace picnic tables and signage at parks statewide, according to Mike Leighton, BPL regional manager. It also has been used for trail projects at Camden Hills and Aroostook state parks, he said.
MDIF&W’s share goes to the management of non-game rare, threatened and endangered species through the Endangered and Non-game Wildlife Fund.
The specialty license plate can be requested at municipal offices, according to BPL officials.
For more information about Maine Loon License Plates, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/volunteer/loonplates.html.
For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com.
For more information about the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, go to: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/