Governor Mills Encourages Maine's Congressional Delegation to Help Towns Conserve Land & Support Economic Growth Through Land and Water Conservation Fund

August 24, 2020

For more information contact: Jim Britt at jim.britt@maine.gov

Governor also thanks Maine Congressional Delegation for their support of the Great American Outdoors Act

AUGUSTA - In a letter sent today, Governor Janet Mills urged Maine's Congressional Delegation to help Maine municipalities more easily conserve and protect lands for generations to come and to support economic growth through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The Governor, highlighting the economic and public health benefits of outdoor recreation and land preservation, underscored LWCF's importance in Maine but noted that many municipalities, especially in rural Maine, will have difficulty meeting LWCFs required 50 percent match given budget constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Mills encouraged the Congressional Delegation to address these concerns by reducing the state-required match to 25 percent and by requesting the National Park Service set aside 10 percent of LWCF annually to support stateside management and ongoing stewardship.

"LWCF has played a vital role in Maine, providing more than 43 million dollars for our local and State Parks and recreation areas. The program has also supported sites of national significance such as Acadia National Park and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Since its inception, LWCF has helped support nearly 900 projects across Maine," wrote Governor Mills. The body of evidence continues to grow related to the significant and positive impact outdoor recreation plays in Maine and across the nation. Maine Outdoor Brands, the alliance of brands, non-profits, and business leaders raising awareness of Maine's outdoor recreation economy, reports that outdoor recreation contributes 3 billion dollars to our economy. Living or working within 20 minutes of a park or trail increases by over 40 percent a person's likelihood of visiting that park, and people that live or work near parks and trails are much more likely to have increased levels of physical activity, which improves health outcomes. The physical and emotional benefits of outdoor recreation are even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitation at State Parks has pushed many of them to capacity and our parks and public lands form the foundation of our tourism and outdoor recreation economy.

he Governor also extended her gratitude to the Delegation for their robust support of the Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law earlier this month and guarantees full and permanent funding of LWCF. The program is administered at the federal level by the National Park Service and in Maine by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands.

LWCF, which is funded by oil and gas lease revenues, was established in 1964 to assist federal, state, and local governments in the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation facilities. LWCF grants can provide up to 50 percent of the allowable costs for approved acquisition and development projects for public outdoor recreation.

The full text of the letter is available below:


The Honorable Susan Collins
United States Senate
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Angus King
United States Senate
133 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Chellie Pingree
U.S. House of Representatives
2162 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Jared Golden
U.S. House of Representatives
1223 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515

August 24, 2020

Re: Action to Support Land and Water Conservation Fund Program Management at the State and Municipal level

Dear Senators Collins and King, and Representatives Pingree and Golden,

Thank you for your strong leadership in securing permanent and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) through support of the Great American Outdoors Act, which garnered strong bipartisan support across the country.

As you know, LWCF, which is funded by oil and gas lease revenues, was established in 1964 to assist federal, state, and local governments in the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation facilities. Administered at the federal level by the National Park Service and by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands at the state level, LWCF grants can provide up to 50 percent of the costs for the acquisition and development of projects for public outdoor recreation.

LWCF has played a vital role in Maine, providing more than 43 million dollars for our local and State Parks and recreation areas. The program has also supported sites of national significance such as Acadia National Park and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Since its inception, LWCF has helped support nearly 900 projects across Maine.

The body of evidence continues to grow related to the significant and positive impact outdoor recreation plays in Maine and across the nation. Maine Outdoor Brands, the alliance of brands, non-profits, and business leaders raising awareness of Maine's outdoor recreation economy, reports that outdoor recreation contributes 3 billion dollars to our economy. Living or working within 20 minutes of a park or trail increases by over 40 percent a person's likelihood of visiting that park, and people that live or work near parks and trails are much more likely to have increased levels of physical activity, which improves health outcomes. The physical and emotional benefits of outdoor recreation are even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitation at State Parks has pushed many of them to capacity and our parks and public lands form the foundation of our tourism and outdoor recreation economy.

As LWCF continues to help secure valuable recreational assets, the long-term sustainable support required of state-level program management is especially important. As you know, the pandemic is causing enormous budget pressures at all levels of government. Throughout Maine meeting the required 50 percent match for LWCF funding is extremely challenging. To address these concerns, we recommend the following amendments through the next CARES Act relief bill, appropriations, or a stand alone legislation.

  • Request that the National Park Service provide an annual 10 percent apportionment to program administration, to support stateside program management and ongoing stewardship obligations.
  • Reduce the state-required match to 25 percent to serve as a form of economic stimulus for local communities.

We greatly appreciate your leadership on this vital issue and look forward to continuing to work with each of your offices on finding the best path forward for these recommended requests.

Sincerely, Janet T. Mills Governor

Cc: Amanda E. Beal, Commissioner, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry