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Maine Electorate Supports Releasing Conservation Funds

Since March, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage has prevented the Land for Maine’s Future program from borrowing new funds or investing existing dollars to close more than 30 already approved land conservation projects. New data from a poll conducted by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies and the Democratic firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates finds that Maine Democrats, Independents and Republicans, from every part of the state, overwhelmingly support the release of voter-approved Land for Maine’s Future funds.

Highlights from the poll:

  • 74% to 16% – Overall support for releasing LMF funds: Given a brief, neutral explanation of the two perspectives on LMF funding, 74% of Maine people say the Governor should release voter-approved bond funds. Only 16% side with the idea that the Governor should not release LMF funds. Those supporting the release of LMF funds include:
    • 91% of Democrats, 76% of independents and 54% of Republicans.
    • More than 70% of Mainers in every region of the state: coastal Maine (75%), Northeast (76%), South (76%) and Central (72%)
  • 79% to 16% – Support for not letting LMF funds get held up because of an unrelated issue. By a margin of 79% to 16%, Mainers reject withholding LMF bonds until the Legislature approves an unrelated law to use revenue from timber harvests on state lands to fund a separate government program to help low-income Maine residents upgrade their heating systems. Seventy-nine percent chose, instead, to support the view that “once the people of Maine have spoken at the ballot box, no one individual – even the Governor – ought to have the right to veto that decision.”
  • 73% to 12% – Believe LMF benefits all Mainers vs. only “wealthy land owners.” By a margin of 73% to 12%, Mainers believe that LMF funds benefit all Mainers and visitors versus only benefiting “wealthy landowners.”

“This poll is the latest indication that Maine people, across the state and from all walks of life, are benefitting from and valuing the economic importance of Land for Maine’s Future investments,” shared Maine Coast Heritage Trust President Tim Glidden. “It is time policymakers empower this popular land conservation program, so that it can once again fulfill the wishes of Maine voters.”

“Understanding how valuable LMF investments are to strengthening our economy, especially in rural areas, I am not at all surprised by these numbers” added Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Executive Director David Trahan. “Sportsmen and women and outdoor groups know that LMF benefits all Mainers, not the rich. We again ask the Governor and legislators to listen and release LMF funds now.”

“We have heard months of debate and suggestions that LMF only benefits the wealthy or that voter-approved bond funds can be used as political leverage,” said Tom Abello, Senior Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “What this poll tells us is that voters know better and are not buying any of it. We hope Legislators are listening.”

“We are not surprised to see such strong support for LMF regardless of political affiliation or region in Maine,” said Wolfe Tone of The Trust for Public Land. “Voters have overwhelmingly approved these bonds at the ballot box six times. With more than 30 projects in limbo across the state, Mainers understand how withholding LMF funds is hurting their own local economy. It is time to release LMF funding and allow these investments to move forward.”