Bond proposals for Land for Maine’s Future, proven effective and popular across the political spectrum, win every time they’re on the ballot.

Yet one hasn’t been put up for a vote in nearly 10 years, the result of partisan politics and the opposition of the prior governor. Now, the fund is nearly depleted, threatening its ability to save land precious to Mainers for any number of reasons.

Once again, lawmakers are considering whether to put a bond proposal before voters in November. Fortunately, now is the perfect time to rejuvenate this program.

The Great American Outdoors Act, passed by Congress last year and signed into law by President Trump, will send tens of millions of dollars a year to Maine to acquire land and develop outdoor recreation infrastructure — as long as the state can provide the required match. That’s where Land for Maine’s Future comes in.

Since its creation in 1987, LMF has conserved more than 600,000 acres of land, including working forests and deer-wintering habitat, farms and piers, snowmobile and hunting trails, in rural areas and urban, up and down the state.

The diversity of the land saved through the program and the wealth of recreational and economic opportunities it affords are stunning. It’s no surprise that the program is popular across the board — a 2020 poll found LMF funding is favored by 4 in 5 voters, and land bonds have passed all six times they’ve been on the ballot.

But they haven’t been up for a vote since 2012, largely due to the opposition of former Gov. Paul LePage and allied Republicans in the Legislature. Since Gov. Janet Mills came into office, Republicans have successfully kept land bonds off the ballot, too.

With a backlog of valuable projects and opportunity knocking in the form of federal funds, let’s hope partisanship does not get in the way of conservation funding this time.

It doesn’t have to. A legislative committee recently held a hearing on two bills that propose land bonds, one for $80 million and the other for $35 million. (Both include funding for maintenance and projects at state parks too, as well as money for smaller local projects.)

Both bills, but particularly the one with more funding, drew the support from a diverse group of stakeholders.

The Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association said Land for Maine’s Future is one of the best tools the state has for protecting waterfronts. Real estate agents said land access is a key attraction for homebuyers. Maine Guides said conserved land is crucial to their small businesses. The Maine Marine Trade Association said it supports boatyards, boat builders, marinas and others who make their living off the water.

The New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers said the growth in the use of public lands during the pandemic should be an indication of their worth, and their worthiness for investment.

Maine Audubon said the program helps save species endangered by loss of habitat, including the Bicknell’s Thrush on Crocker Mountain in Franklin County.

Maine Farmland Trust said it can help stop a worrying trend, the loss of farmland in Maine — 10% over a recent five-year period.

Each of these groups know that Land for Maine’s Future helps their cause and the state as a whole.

Voters know it too, and they shouldn’t have to wait any longer to show their support.


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