Theodore Roosevelt once said, “If there is any one duty which more than another we owe it to our children and our children’s children to perform at once, it is to save the forests of this country, for they constitute the first and most important element in the conservation of the natural resources of this country.”

Here in our home state of Maine, which is so dependent on its natural resources and its natural beauty, Teddy’s words strike deep. Preserving our environment is essential to preserving our Maine Heritage. It is unfortunate that too many of our politicians don’t see that or don’t prioritize it.

As conservative Maine Republicans, we are always on guard against wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, but at the same time we value good investments. The preservation of some of Maine’s most beautiful land and water, in part through taxpayer expense, has undoubtedly made Maine a richer state economically, culturally and, yes, spiritually.

Despite the overwhelming support of Mainers for preserving more of Maine’s natural beauty, today’s toxic political climate may be putting that widespread goal at risk. For example, the hugely successful Land for Maine’s Future program may be in trouble. The last time a bond for LMF was passed was in 2012, and a bill to provide funds for the program that is before the Maine Legislature, L.D. 911, is uncertain to pass.

Since being established in 1987 with major help from former Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Executive Director George Smith, LMF has protected more than 600,000 acres of land — including over 300,000 acres of working forestland in private ownership. It has also protected at least 40 farms, more than 20 working waterfront properties and more than 50 public water access sites.

One LMF project, Gulf Hagas (known as the Grand Canyon of the East), we benefited from in person. When Garrett was a kid we hiked it, and Garrett caught a 12-inch brook trout on the West Branch of the Pleasant River! Thousands more people have certainly had similar experiences, and they create fond memories that last a lifetime.

LMF projects are not like old school environmentalist agendas that sought to deny human access to lands. Instead, LMF projects support traditional use of our lands and waters, including hiking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, ATV use, sustainable forestry and working farmland.

This compromise that developed over the past few decades has been remarkable, living up to the Maine tradition of common sense for the common good. In that spirit, Republican and Democratic legislators should, at least on this matter, work together and quickly pass L.D. 911.

This is a “people before politics” moment. Our future depends on it. We have a prestigious outdoors legacy here in Maine and it is imperative that we preserve and protect it with wise, forward-thinking public policies.

We’ve got to be planning for the future if we are to protect our past, and LMF is progressive and conservative at the same time.

Teddy Roosevelt also spoke to this point, giving this advice:

“Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us to restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wildlife and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method.”

As Republicans, we believe that conservation is conservatism at its best. Politicians, don’t let us down.


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