Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Announces Laura Graham as Land for Maine's Future Program Director
December 1, 2023
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
Augusta, Maine - The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is pleased to announce Laura Graham as Land for Maine's Future Program (LMF) Director. Graham brings wide-ranging experience and knowledge of conservation easement and land acquisition transactions, including strategic project selection, supportive policy, and successful funding and implementation. Graham will assume her new role starting in early December.
Currently a Senior Planner at the LMF, Graham brings expertise in competitive grant programs to safeguard working farmland, working waterfronts, and public access to recreational or naturally significant lands. With a background as a trial lawyer, Laura dedicated numerous years to advocating in contested civil proceedings. Her keen interest in conflict resolution led her to become a founding member of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators. Laura has dedicated much of her volunteer efforts to assisting individuals, groups, and organizations in times of transition. She is currently the board chair for the Ecology Learning Center, a location-based charter high school in Unity, where she remains steadfast in her belief that educating the next generation is a paramount responsibility.
"The LMF plays a vital role in protecting our natural and working lands and ensuring broad access to the public to many of our most beautiful and ecologically important lands," said DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. "Laura's unique experiences and depth of knowledge will serve the program and Maine very well."
"Laura's extensive background with issues that are central to the work of the LMF program provides a solid foundation for her success in this new leadership role," said LMF Board Chair Patrick Keliher.
"Laura has the skills and experiences to step seamlessly into this leadership role. I am delighted she is joining the management team in DACF's Bureau of Resource Information and Land Use Planning," said Bureau Director Judy East.
A native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Laura earned her undergraduate degree in Art at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, and her J.D. at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
The LMF, a vital component of the DACF Bureau of Resource Information and Land Use Planning, has been active since its establishment in 1987, thanks to a $35 million bond approved by Maine citizens. This program is the cornerstone of the state's efforts to preserve land for its intrinsic natural beauty and recreational significance. In acknowledgment of the pivotal role that working lands and public access to these areas play in maintaining Maine's quality of life, the LMF has successfully conserved an expanse of over 626,000 acres, with 333,425 acres dedicated to working land.
The scope of the LMF's impact encompasses creating 73 water access sites, offering 67 miles of protected shoreline along rivers, lakes, and ponds. The program has safeguarded 41 farms, securing 9,884 acres of farmland. Additionally, the LMF has been instrumental in conserving 30 working waterfront properties and repurposing 158 miles of former railroad corridors into recreational trails. This multifaceted approach extends to creating over 65 miles of coastal access, enhancing public enjoyment of Maine's coastal landscapes. The LMF's efforts are a testament to its commitment to preserving the state's natural heritage and providing valuable recreational spaces for current and future generations. For more information about the LMF program and the conservation projects, please visit maine.gov/dacf/lmf.