Recently, there has been increased scrutiny of Maine’s land trusts. As
a representative of a local land conservation organization, I welcome
the attention. However, for too long public debate on the land trust community
has been plagued by speculation and misinformation. Maine people
provide a more accurate picture for policymakers and the public, Loon
Echo Land Trust (LELT) participated in a Maine Land Trust Network
conducted survey in 2017 of the state’s land trust
organizations. The data and information collected has been
In our region, our nationally accredited land trust has conserved
nearly 6700 acres of land, helping to preserve the rural character for
our neighbors, saving precious landmarks from development, helping to
preserve our clean water through forest filtration, providing jobs,
paying taxes, and providing public recreation on all of our
Echo’s trail counters recorded over 50,000 user days in 2017 on our 31
miles of trails with a positive economic impact of over $2 million to
the local economy.
Thanks to Maine’s network of eighty land trusts, other regions of the
state are seeing similar benefits. For example, on Maine’s Land Trust
conserved lands, the public enjoys a diverse network of outdoor
recreational areas that rival those offered at state and federal parks,
and with few exceptions, use of these lands is free to all. More
specifically, residents and visitors alike will find the following
amenities on Maine Land Trust conserved properties:
will find more than 1,250 miles of trails. These range from
family-friendly nature paths to more rugged routes ending atop
wind-swept summits, and everything in between.
recreationalists can enjoy more than 275 miles of mountain bike trails,
345 miles of ATV trails, and 570 miles of snowmobile trails.
are invited to discover more than 200 beaches offering opportunities to
swim, picnic, and observe wildlife.
enthusiasts can launch their canoe or kayak at more than 60 saltwater
and 140 freshwater boat launch sites, provided and maintained by land
believe it or not, more than 90 percent of all lands conserved by Maine
Land Trusts are open to hunting. In other words, more than 2.3 million
acres – 10 percent of the state.
land trust protected properties are especially critical in Maine, a
state that continues to lag well behind others when it comes to public
lands available for outdoor recreation. In fact, Maine has the lowest percentage
of public lands (6.5 percent of the state) of any state east of the
Appalachian Mountains. By comparison, more than 17 percent of New
Hampshire is publicly owned. And, in Florida, one in every four acres
is conservation land owned by the public.
a bonus, unlike public lands, most land trust conserved lands are
directly contributing to our local tax base. In fact, more than 94.5
percent of all lands conserved by land trusts in Maine remain on the
tax rolls. These properties are also indirectly generating tax revenue
by supporting local economies through the protection of more than 2.1
million acres of working forests, 36,000 acres of productive farmland,
and 60 access sites for marine fishermen. Land trust lands are also
popular destinations for visitors, strengthening the tourism sector,
the state’s largest industry.
Please visit us on-line to learn more at www.lelt.org. For more information
on land trusts visit www.mltn.org. While there, check out
“Land Trusts Work for Maine.” The culmination of the 2017 survey, this
12-page report outlines ways in which land trusts are strengthening
Maine’s economy and enhancing our communities.
Loon Echo Land Trust