Mills Administration Announces the Next Land For Maine's Future Program Call for Proposals
January 31, 2023
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
Program seeks conservation and recreation projects on working forestland and in the Working Farmland Access and Protection Program.
AUGUSTA - The Mills Administration announced its second call for proposals through the Land for Maine's Future Program (LMF) in a little over a month. The latest requests are for conservation and recreation projects that protect working forest land and for Working Farmland Access and Protection Program projects.
The LMF is the State's primary method of conserving land for its natural and recreational value. The Program was established in 1987 when Maine citizens approved a $35 million bond to fund land purchases and easements. The Program's priority is to conserve more of Maine's landscape, recognizing that permanently protecting lands with exceptional natural or recreational value is critical to maintaining our quality of life.
Since its inception, the LMF has conserved over 610,000 acres of land, including 333,425 acres of working lands. This includes 70 water access sites with over 67 miles of shoreline on rivers, lakes, and ponds, 41 farms and 9,884 acres of protected farmlands, 30 working waterfront properties, 158 miles of former railroad corridors for recreational trails, and over 69 miles of coastal access.
The Fund was nearly depleted before Governor Mills and Legislature approved a $40 million infusion in the 2022-2023 fiscal budget.
"Maine people value the outdoors, and I am proud that this call for proposals - the second in just over a month -- is continuing the important work of preserving our cherished lands and waters for generations to come," said Governor Janet Mills.
- May 19, 2023 - Inquiry Forms due no later than 5:00 PM
- August 4, 2023 - Final Proposals due no later than 5:00 PM
The Calls for Proposal
Working forests provide many public benefits, from ensuring a sustainable wood supply to support our forest economy to public access for traditional outdoor recreation pursuits. They provide wildlife habitat and are a critical component of the State's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon, as outlined in the State's Climate Action Plan, Maine Won't Wait. Eligible projects include the acquisition of Town forests, drinking water supply protection, properties that protect deer wintering habitat, and working forest easements on commercial timberland.
An application to LMF requires sponsorship from a suitable state agency. Applications must include full knowledge and agreement from the landowner that their project is up for consideration for LMF funding. Funds often assist land trusts, municipalities and state agencies in meeting their conservation goals.
The Working Farmland Access and Protection Program (WFAPP) provides funding to protect Maine's productive and economically significant farmland through the acquisition of agricultural conservation easements. On these protected properties, WFAPP encourages agricultural practices that support soil health, carbon sequestration, and the long-term productivity of protected farmland.
WFAPP also seeks to protect properties that support farming operations in areas of the state that anchor a viable agricultural economy, that benefit beginning farmers or underserved communities, and that provide multiple public benefits such as protection of wildlife habitat or sensitive ecosystems. Agricultural conservation easements can provide farmers with capital to improve stewardship of their land while placing lasting protections on their property, ensuring these lands will be available for agricultural production for generations to come.
All projects must be sponsored by the Bureau of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources and interested applicants are encouraged to connect with Bureau staff to discuss their proposals.
Eligible LMF applicants include non-profit land conservation organizations, cities, towns, state agencies, or other organizations that are eligible holders of conservation easements under Title 33 M.R.S.A, Section 476(2).
A copy of the LMF Workbook, which consists of all information necessary to apply for LMF funds, is available now on theLMF web page.
"As the development pressure on our state's farmland and forests continues to grow, we are calling for proposals to preserve more Maine farmland and forests permanently. Doing so is critical to achieving our state's goals to ensure a viable land base for our agricultural and forestry sectors, now and for generations to come," said Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal.
In January 2022, the Governor announced the first new LMF projects to be funded since 2017. The selected projects reflected the goals of LD 404, An Act to Preserve Deer Habitat, which was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor last year by giving preferential consideration to projects that conserve deer wintering habitat. The Caribou Stream Deer Wintering Area project conserved 930 acres of priority deer wintering habitat in Woodland and Washburn in Aroostook County.
In June 2022, the Governor announced 20 additional LMF conservation projects selected for funding by the LMF Board. Of the 20 projects, one-third of the applications came from municipalities including Fryeburg, North Berwick, Owls Head, Portland, Searsmont, and Windham to conserve recreation areas. Four projects in Ellsworth, Fryeburg, Machiasport, and Oxford are located adjacent to or near public schools, delivering opportunities for nature-based learning and outdoor recreation.
In September 2022, Governor Mills announced 12 more LMF conservation projects slated to move forward, protecting working lands and wildlife habitats and preserving public access to lakes, rivers, scenic views, and mountain vistas. The projects included Reed Deadwater, the state's largest conservation project to protect deer wintering habitat.
In December 2022, the Governor announced a new call for proposals through LMF. The request was for conservation and recreation projects of statewide significance and community conservation projects, which will build on the numerous successful proposals from the last 35 years.