Friday, February 9, 2018

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Land Trusts Work for Maine

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 deserve better.

To 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 revealing.

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 preserves. 

Loon 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:

Hikers 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.

Outdoor recreationalists can enjoy more than 275 miles of mountain bike trails, 345 miles of ATV trails, and 570 miles of snowmobile trails.

Families are invited to discover more than 200 beaches offering opportunities to swim, picnic, and observe wildlife.

Water enthusiasts can launch their canoe or kayak at more than 60 saltwater and 140 freshwater boat launch sites, provided and maintained by land trusts.

And, 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.

These 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.

As 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 For more information on land trusts visit 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.

Thom Perkins,
Executive Director
Loon Echo Land Trust


No comments:

Post a Comment