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Plotting to Preserve Maine's Conservation Lands

PHOTO: Maine is a national leader in land conservation, and a new report is aimed at making sure it stays that way. Photo courtesy of Ryan Neale, Maine Development Foundation.
PHOTO: Maine is a national leader in land conservation, and a new report is aimed at making sure it stays that way. Photo courtesy of Ryan Neale, Maine Development Foundation.
September 29, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine - When it comes to land conservation, Maine is a national leader, coming in second in the U.S. in total acreage preserved for conservation.

As a means to keep Maine in the forefront of land conservation, the latest edition of the quarterly Maine Development Foundation report is being touted as a means to outline strategies for the future.

The report was prepared by the University of Maine's School of Economics for the Maine Development Foundation and the Maine Economic Growth Council, and breaks down the 19 percent of Maine's conserved land by cover type. Environmental scientist and report co-author Michelle Johnson says things in the state have changed.

"The dollars aren't going to continue for land conservation like they existed in the 1990s and the early 2000s," she warns. "So we're going to need to be more strategic about future acquisitions."

The report says coordinating and prioritizing conservation efforts among the state's many stakeholders will be critical to arrive at outcomes that best serve Maine's economy and its residents.

Ryan Neale, program director with the Maine Development Foundation, says the state has far exceeded its goal in conservation acreage, but issues still remain over which lands are conserved.

"For example, an acre up in northern Maine will not necessarily have the same recreational benefits to an acre in the Greater Portland area, if that's the goal of the conservation organization," he says.

According to Neale, this particular quarterly economic report was focused on conserved lands because of their importance to Maine's prosperity and "sense of place."

"It's essentially speaking to our quality of life that many Mainers value," says Neale. "A lot of that is based on our natural assets, our natural amenities - and that's been very important to our history and to our economy."

The four-page report can be accessed via the Maine Development Foundation website.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME