In Maine, we are lucky to have many land trusts working closely with their local communities to support the economy, environment, and way of life. Recent articles in the Portland Press Herald, Times Record, and Bangor Daily News, among others, dispute recent claims by Governor LePage that land trusts are hurting Maine’s economy, and describe some of the many benefits we work to bring to our state.
For example, there are over 1,250 miles of hiking trails, and 915 miles of snowmobile and ATV trails protected and maintained by land trusts. There are also 2.14 million acres of working forest lands, and 36,000 acres of working farmland kept working by land trusts. We also know that land trusts are not having the impact on our municipal budgets that is often feared, as nearly 95% of protected lands remain on the tax rolls, while Maine has the lowest percentage of public lands of any east coast state. Even those lands that are not on the tax rolls are often compensated for in other payments, and always provide significant public benefits to the community through recreation, ecosystem services (like clean water and fresh air), wildlife habitat, sense of place, and more.
You can find recent news articles here:
Local land trusts on defense after renewed LePage attacks
By Darcie Moore, Chris Quattrucci, and John Swinconeck
Last week’s State of the State address saw Gov. Paul LePage renew his familiar attack on land trusts, claiming the conservation groups are keeping properties off municipal tax rolls in poorer communities.
Recently, some local Midcoast trusts weighed in on the governor’s proposal to tax conserved property owned by trusts.
A property tax on land trusts would have an immediate impact on the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust. According to Executive Director Carrie Kinne, it could mean a loss of programs or staff for the land trust.
Maine land trusts say governor uses bogus data in pitch to tax them
By Kevin Miller
Gov. Paul LePage is once again accusing conservation groups of “ripping off” taxpayers in Maine by not paying local taxes on vast swaths of land across the state.
But conservation advocates and some lawmakers counter that the governor is peddling misleading information that ignores payments made by land trusts as well as the public benefits of preserving land in a state defined by its natural beauty.
“They are paying taxes, they are providing and generating income and, in most cases, they are open to the public for (recreational) use,” said Sen. Tom Saviello, a Wilton Republican.
LePage policies, not land trusts, have driven up property taxes
By Peter McGuire
In Tuesday’s State of the State speech, Gov. Paul LePage highlighted a serious problem that deserves attention in Augusta and beyond. Maine’s property taxes are too high, and they are rising.
LePage, however, identified the wrong source of the problem. The governor, a long-time critic of land conservation, blamed land trusts for “skyrocketing property taxes” that are pushing elderly Mainers out of their homes.
“The real culprit is the tremendous amount of land and property value we’ve allowed to be taken off our tax rolls, leaving homeowners to pick up the tab,” he said.
Maine Voices: Maine Land Trust Network helps support ‘the way life should be’
By Nick Ullo and Angela Twitchell
The Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee has been studying Maine land trusts since October. As leaders of the Maine Land Trust Network, we welcome the study and the chance to highlight the many ways we make Maine “the way life should be.”
Last summer, the Maine Land Trust Network surveyed our members and published the findings in a report titled “Land Trusts Work for Maine.” This report highlights the most important benefits that land trusts contribute to our local communities and to the state. For example, hikers can explore more than 1,250 miles of trails that wind through land trust properties in every corner of Maine. These range from family-friendly nature paths in communities like Freeport, to more challenging routes ending atop bald summits in rural corners of Oxford County, and everything in between.