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Diverse Task Force Forms to Develop Conservation Roadmap

AUGUSTA – Twenty individuals and organizations have formed a task force to shape the next generation of Maine land conservation, coming on the heels of three decades of unprecedented accomplishments. The group, co-chaired by David Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and Tim Glidden, President of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, convened for the first time on May 29th in Augusta. They plan to meet at least five more times and solicit public feedback prior to developing a final report in early 2019.

“Despite the many conservation successes realized in recent years, traditional public access to the outdoors continues to be threatened and the loss of habitat remains a challenge to the health of deer, brook trout, waterfowl, and other important wildlife species,” explained Sportsman’s Alliance Executive Director David Trahan “I look forward to joining other task members as we identify the state’s future conservation priorities and develop a roadmap to ensure outdoor recreational activities remain a vibrant component of Maine’s culture.”

The Task Force has embraced an ambitious agenda, including the following issues:

  • Identifying land and water conservation initiatives that reflect the evolving priorities of Maine people and communities,
  • Improving public access to existing conservation lands,
  • Enhancing collaboration between economic development organizations, recreational groups, land trusts, municipalities, businesses, and other civic organizations,
  • Maximizing ways in which land and water conservation activities benefit local and regional economies, and
  • Proposing funding, strategies, and policy options to support the Task Force’s recommendations.

“Following voter approval of the Land for Maine’s Future program in 1987, our state enjoyed a remarkable thirty-year period of land conservation, with achievements touching all corners of the state and all facets of life for Maine people,” shared Maine Coast Heritage Trust President Tim Glidden. “However, there has been a growing realization that the state needs to complete a fresh assessment of current ecological challenges, community needs, and economic opportunities in order to lay the groundwork for a new chapter of land conservation activities in Maine.”

Sponsored by the individuals and organizations that have agreed to participate, the composition of the twenty-member task force reflects the many ways land conservation positively impacts Maine people with representatives from land trusts, sportsmen organizations, outdoor recreational groups, municipalities, the State Legislature, businesses, and others. Members include the following:

  • John Banks, Penobscot Indian Nation
  • Adam Bishop, Maine Farmland Trust
  • Cathy Breen, State Senator
  • Jen Brophy, Red River Camps
  • John Bryant, American Forest Management
  • Patrick Corey, State Representative
  • Hugh Cowperthwaite, CEI
  • Lee Dassler, Western Foothills Land Trust
  • Tim Glidden, Maine Coast Heritage Trust
  • Doug Kane, ATV Maine
  • Dennis Keschl, Belgrade Town Manager
  • Don Kleiner, Maine Professional Guides Association
  • Alex Koch, Unity College Student
  • Janet McMahon, Ecologist
  • Austin Muir, Chewonki Foundation
  • Nancy Smith, GrowSmart Maine
  • Alison Sucy, Maine Tourism Association
  • Wolfe Tone, Maine Huts & Trails
  • David Trahan, Sportsman's Alliance of Maine
  • Chris Winstead, Piscataquis County Economic Development Council

“Maine has a unique, natural beauty that provides amazing experiences for its citizens as well as its visitors,” said Alison Sucy, Director of Government Affairs for the Maine Tourism Association. “Tourism, which generates nearly $9 billion in sales, contributes $600 million in taxes and supports 107,000 jobs, is one of the top economic drivers in the state and, therefore, it is critical that we ensure that conserved lands are open for public use and enjoyment.”

"This task force is poised to build upon the long track record of success that land conservation activities have had in making Maine a more welcoming state to live, work, and raise a family," said Sen. Cathy Breen of Falmouth. "It is no wonder that land trusts and the Land for Maine's Future program have enjoyed broad bipartisan support for over 30 years. We must continue to evaluate our land conservation efforts and develop a smart plan moving forward to ensure Maine people can continue to benefit from all the rich natural resources our state has to offer." 

“It has been more than twenty years since Maine has embarked on a similar effort to assess the state’s existing protected landscapes and to prioritize future investments in conserving these special places,” commented Representative Patrick Corey, Windham. “As a legislator, I’m especially interested in helping future policymakers make better-informed decisions when it comes to conserving natural resources that are vital to our economic prosperity and sense of who we are as Mainers.”

Information about the Task Force and its work can be found at maineconservationtaskforce.com.  The public is invited to share their viewpoints with the Task Force through the website, at upcoming meetings, or at public listening sessions which will be scheduled later in the year. Consultants Jerry Bley and Liz Petruska will be jointly coordinating the Task Force’s efforts.