Legislators can help working families by overriding bonds release bill veto

June 30, 2015 by

“Governor LePage has it all wrong when he says LMF is only for the rich. LMF very specifically helps working families. In particular, it keeps farm lands in production and provides waterside access for commercial fishermen so they can bring in their catch. It helps hardworking farmers and fishermen retain their livelihoods and support their families. It generates economic activity and tax revenues when out-of-state visitors come to Maine to enjoy our natural wonders.”

Full disclosure: I ran the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program for one year in 2011-12 when it was housed at the State Planning Office. I believe in the program, and always have. LMF stems the tide of closures of Maine lands and waters to public access and helps to preserve our state’s natural heritage. But the governor is threatening that heritage by withholding land conservation bonds that the voters approved in 2009 and 2014.

I urge legislators to override the governor’s veto of LD 1378, a bill that will ensure state bonds the governor has wrongly withheld are released to support a slate of important land conservation projects.

One of these projects is Cold Stream Forest near The Forks in Western Maine, an 8,000-acre parcel that conserves more wild brook trout pond habitat than in the rest of Northern New England and was ranked third in the nation by the U.S. Forest Service for federal funding. State LMF bonds funds are required as match to obtain $6 million in federal funds for this project.

LMF bonds release 6-30-2015revFBMy father fishes Cold Stream Pond every summer and has since before I was born. He fishes rain or shine, hot or cold, black flies or not. He is his happiest when there. For him, it is not just about catching fish; it is about being in those woods, listening to the quiet only occasionally shattered by a lumbering moose, and watching the icy, still water wondrously broken by silvery fish jumping to catch mayflies.

There is a small campsite on the banks of Cold Stream. My father and other campers maintain it, picking up litter, repairing picnic benches and stone fireplaces, and rebuilding the outhouse. A few years ago, the current landowner, Plum Creek, graciously trucked in lumber but my then 75-year-old father and six other men spent a full day sawing, hammering, and fitting boards to repair the bridge on the logging road that offers access to the campsite.

Governor LePage has it all wrong when he says LMF is only for the rich. LMF very specifically helps working families. In particular, it keeps farm lands in production and provides waterside access for commercial fishermen so they can bring in their catch. It helps hardworking farmers and fishermen retain their livelihoods and support their families. It generates economic activity and tax revenues when out-of-state visitors come to Maine to enjoy our natural wonders.

It also allows my father and other anglers to access some of the state’s most magnificent trout ponds. A retired meat cutter, my father is far from a rich man. But if the governor is held in check and the legislature stipulates the release of LMF bonds, he will be enriched when he continues to fish Cold Stream Pond and by LMF’s legacy of land conservation across the state. He will, that is, if the legislature overrides this veto.

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