AUGUSTA — The Mills Administration announced two new calls for proposals through the Lands for Maine’s Future Program (LMF). The requests are for projects of statewide significance, community conservation, and working forests and build on numerous successful proposals for conservation, recreation, water access, and working waterfront preservation.
The LMF is the State’s primary method of conserving land for its natural and recreational value. The program was established in 1987 when Maine citizens approved a $35 million bond to fund land purchases and easements. The program’s priority is to conserve more of Maine’s landscape, recognizing that permanently protecting lands with exceptional natural or recreational value is critical to maintaining our quality of life.
Since its inception, LMF has conserved over 610,000 acres of land, including 333,425 working lands. This work includes 70 water access sites with over 67 miles of shoreline on rivers, lakes, and ponds, 41 farms and 9,884 acres of protected farmlands, 30 working waterfront properties, 158 miles of former railroad corridors for recreational trails, and over 69 miles of coastal access.
The Fund was nearly depleted before Governor Mills and Legislature approved a $40 million infusion in the 2022-2023 fiscal budget.
“Maine people value the outdoors, and I am proud that through this call for proposals we are continuing the important work of preserving our cherished lands and waters for generations to come,” said Governor Janet Mills.
The Calls for Proposals
The first, Round A, is for Projects of Statewide Significance and Community Conservation Projects.
Round A Inquiry Forms are due by 5:00 PM, January 13, 2023. Final Round A Proposals are due by 5:00 PM, March 24, 2023.
- Projects of Statewide Significance that will frequently and routinely attract users to travel from across the state or from out-of-state.
- Community Conservation Projects are projects of local or regional significance.
- Eligible projects protect one or more of the following: public outdoor recreational access to land and waters, including for underserved populations; public health; a connection between conserved lands and population centers; local or regional agriculture; conservation of cultural and historical resources on undeveloped lands; protection of lakes, rivers or streams; conservation of fish or wildlife habitat; protection of public drinking water supplies; conservation of community forests; local economic development; opportunities for environmental learning; nonmotorized transportation options; or other priorities as determined by the board.
The Second, Round B, is for Working Forest Projects.
Round B Inquiry Forms are due by 5:00 PM, May 19, 2023. Final Round B Proposals are due by 5:00 PM, August 4, 2023.
- Working forests provide many public benefits, from ensuring a sustainable wood supply to support our forest economy to public access for traditional outdoor recreation pursuits. They provide wildlife habitat and are a critical component of the State’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon, as outlined in the State’s Climate Action Plan, Maine Won’t Wait. Eligible projects include the acquisition of Town forests, drinking water supply protection, properties that protect deer wintering habitat, and working forest easements on commercial timberland.
Eligible LMF applicants include non-profit land conservation organizations, cities, towns, and state agencies. A copy of the LMF Workbook, which consists of all information necessary to apply for LMF funds, are available now on the LMF web pages.
“The Land for Maine’s Future program is critically important for the protection of Maine’s valuable wilderness areas, support for our heritage industries, and the opportunity for a healthy and prosperous future for Maine communities” said Pat Keliher, Land for Maine’s Future Board Chair and Commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
“This call for proposals is an outstanding opportunity for municipalities and other conservation-driven organizations to come forward with concepts to protect access to the outdoors and permanently prevent development, deforestation, and habitat loss,” said Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal.
In September 2022, Governor Mills announced 12 LMF conservation projects which protect working lands and wildlife habitats and preserve public access to lakes, rivers, scenic views, and mountain vistas. The projects included Reed Deadwater, the State’s largest conservation project to protect deer wintering habitat.
In June 2022, the Governor announced 20 LMF conservation projects. Of the 20 projects, one-third of the applications came from municipalities – including Fryeburg, North Berwick, Owls Head, Portland, Searsmont, and Windham – to conserve recreation areas. Four projects – in Ellsworth, Fryeburg, Machiasport, and Oxford – are located adjacent to or near public schools, delivering opportunities for nature-based learning and outdoor recreation.
In January 2022, the Governor announced the first new LMF projects to be funded since 2017. The selected projects reflected the goals of LD 404, An Act to Preserve Deer Habitat, which was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor last year by giving preferential consideration to projects that conserve deer wintering habitat. The Caribou Stream Deer Winter Area project conserved 930 acres of priority deer wintering habitat in Woodland and Washburn in Aroostook County.
–Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry