Maine Government News
Partnership That Includes Maine Department of Environmental Protection Awards $2.2 Million For Conservation Projects
January 11, 2013
Samantha Warren, DEP Communications Director, (207) 287-5842 or Dawn Hallowell, DEP Licensing & Compliance Manager and MNRC Review Committee Chair, 207-557-2624
BRUNSWICK – More than $2 million will help public and non-profit groups restore and protect high priority wetlands and other natural resources across Maine.
The Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program – which is administered by The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – announced awards totaling $2.2 million to help restore, enhance or preserve wetlands and other important habitats at 14 project sites around the state.
The program provides flexibility for both regulators and the regulated community to choose a fee in lieu of more time-intensive traditional mitigation options. These so-called In Lieu Fees are collected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and then transferred to the Natural Resource Conservation Fund at The Nature Conservancy.
“All of us who live, work and play in Maine value the state’s natural resources and are committed to their protection. This collaboration between Maine DEP, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has become one of Maine’s most meaningful tools for that work as it facilitates important environmental enhancements and responsible development,” said Commissioner Patricia Aho of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “When conservationists and developers come together as allies instead of adversaries, we are able to do great things for Maine’s natural environment, and its economic one.”
“After four rounds of these awards, we’re starting to see real progress toward conserving Maine’s aquatic resources,” said Alex Mas, who manages the program for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “Traditional mitigation projects can often be scattered, small or poorly located; this program allows us to focus wetland mitigation funds in high priority areas to help ensure they continue to provide important benefits for people and for wildlife into the future."
“After all efforts have been made to avoid or minimize wetland impacts, this program provides permit applicants an efficient and workable alternative to traditional mitigation, while providing a better outcome for our wetland habitats,” said Ruth Ladd, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. “The fees are used to restore, enhance, preserve or create ecologically significant aquatic resources and their associated uplands.”
This is the fourth round of awards from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program to advance important land and water conservation around the state:
•In Northern Maine, the Forest Society of Maine will use $67,000 to protect 350 acres in the Violette Brook watershed. The property contains a reserve drinking water supply for the communities of Van Buren and Hamlin, as well as recreational access for snowmobiling, hunting, fishing and hiking.
•Downeast, the Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation will use $114,480 to conserve 136 acres near the Indian River in Addison. The new conservation lands will protect the property’s extensive wetlands, as well as the water quality in Indian River Stream and its estuary.
•In Central Maine, the Orono Land Trust will use $223,000 to expand conservation efforts at Caribou Bog, by purchasing an abutting property for conservation and removing water control structures to restore its natural wetland ecology.
•In Western Maine, The Trust for Public Land will use $100,000 to help protect 5,800 acres in Madrid, near Orbeton Stream, where Atlantic salmon recently returned to spawn for the first time in more than a century. The property contains about 20 miles of stream, including the headwaters of the Sandy River.
•In Southern Maine, $102,650 will go toward the Scarborough Land Trust’s conservation of Warren Woods, a 160-acre property in Scarborough that features open fields and more than 100 acres of wetlands, as well several vernal pools and frontage along the Nonesuch River.
Other 2012 award recipients include: Atlantic Salmon Federation, Bangor Land Trust, Georges River Land Trust, Great Works Regional Land Trust, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Sebasticook Regional Land Trust, Three Rivers Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust and York Land Trust.
For more information about the Maine Natural Resource Conservation program, visit http://mnrcp.org/