The “Land Trusts Work for Maine” Report
For two years, Maine land trusts have been fending off a series of ill-conceived bills in the state legislature, each based on false assumptions questioning the value of land conservation. In “Land Trusts Work for Maine,” MLTN answers critics with actual data and real examples that illustrate how land conservation groups are expanding outdoor recreational opportunities, strengthening the tourism economy, supporting natural resource jobs, and enhancing local communities in Maine.
The findings of the report are based on a survey of Maine’s land trusts conducted in the summer of 2017. Highlights include the following statistics associated with land trust conserved land in Maine:
- More than 1,260 miles of hiking trails
- More than 570 miles of snowmobile trails
- More than 200 boat launch sites
- More than 2.3 million acres of land open to hunters
- More than 2.1 million acres of working forestlands
- More than 36,000 acres of productive farmlands
- More than 65 access sites for marine fishermen
As a percentage of its total area, Maine has the least amount of public land of any state east of the Appalachian Mountains. Most states rely on government and taxpayers to conserve natural places and guarantee public access to the outdoors. To the contrary, Mainers have chosen a private sector path, built upon home grown land trust organizations in towns and regions throughout the state. And, although most land trust owned properties are eligible for property tax exemption, more than 94.5% of land trust conserved lands remain on the tax rolls.
The “Land Trusts Work for Maine” Report also includes dozens of examples of how these community-based organizations partner with businesses, support local classrooms, help maintain public lands, improve water quality, connect people with nature, and make our state a better place to live and raise a family.
The public, state policymakers, and even those with many years of land trust experience under their belts have found themselves surprised and impressed by the immense contributions land trusts are making in Maine. In fact, the report has inspired long-time sportsman and outdoor writer, George Smith, to author a series of land trust posts on his Bangor Daily News blog. Read the full report here.
In Governor LePage's 2018 State of the State address, which included attacks on land conservation, many of the key benefits land trusts provide Maine were omitted. Maine Public's Susan Sharon followed up with a story that's worth a read or a listen.