For Immediate Release
March 19, 2015
Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
(207) 781-2330 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511
Maine Audubon Releases Statement on Governor LePage’s Refusal to Release
Land for Maine’s Future Bonds
Falmouth – Maine Audubon is deeply concerned that Governor LePage has refused to release voter-approved bonds for Land for Maine’s Future (LMF), a program the organization has strongly supported since its inception in 1987. The goal of the LMF program is to secure lands for recreational public access; conserve our most important wildlife habitats; preserve Maine’s fishing, farming and forestry traditions; and protect the natural environment that is vital to our sense of place and economic future.
This is the first time that LMF has been made into a political issue; LMF bonds have consistently received strong bipartisan and public support. Republican Senator Roger Katz was the sponsor of the last successful LMF bond bill and he has submitted another bond bill this session. Democrat Representative Jeff McCabe has also been a strong champion of the program. Most importantly, the LMF program enjoys strong public support. 60% of Maine voters in 2010 and 2012 voted to invest these conservation funds – this is not a partisan or political issue.
Projects that LMF committed funding to as recently as this past summer are now at risk of not being completed. According to the LMF website, “At its July 15, 2014 meeting the Land for Maine’s Future Board allocated $9.1M of the Land for Maine’s Future bonds approved by voters. Projects include: working forests & farmland, salmon habitat, deer wintering areas, rugged mountains, coastal islands, urban trail connections, working commercial waterfronts, sand beaches, rock climbing areas, wildlife habitat, and many other conservation and recreation assets.” These 30 projects are now at risk because the Governor is not following through on the administration’s commitment to provide its share of the funding for the project.
Many LMF projects protect valuable wildlife habitat. The Cold Stream Forest Project is one such LMF project currently on hold because of the Governor’s refusal to release the bond money. According to the Trust for Public Land’s website, this project “consists of 8,000 acres known as Cold Stream Forest—a refuge for the wild native brook trout, threatened Canada lynx, and dwindling northern Maine deer herd that have attracted generations of hunters, naturalists, and fly fishermen. The trout pond populations on this property alone are larger than those found in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont combined.” Wildlife species that depend on this protected habitat are now at risk because of the Governor’s refusal to release the bond money.
Another project that was scheduled to close by June with LMF funding in hand is being pursued jointly by a private landowner, the Cumberland and Chebeague Land Trust, the Royal River Conservation Trust, the Trust for Public Land, the Towns of Cumberland and North Yarmouth and hundreds of individuals. This project will protect nearly 300 acres, including one of the best Inland Wading Bird and Waterfowl habitats in southern Maine and surrounding forestland that harbors a rare oak hickory forest. Together, these areas provide habitat for ducks, geese, great blue heron, beaver, muskrat, weasels, fox, porcupine and a myriad of songbirds.
After so many people have worked so hard to conserve these resources on behalf of the public, it would be a travesty if these projects fail simply because the Governor refuses to release voter-approved bonds. Maine Audubon will continue to work with legislators and partner organizations to ensure that these vital LMF bonds are released.
About Maine Audubon
Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.
Conserving Maine’s wildlife.
Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon