Opinion

Preserving Maine’s rugged landscapes

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To the Editor;
A Maine Land Conservation Task Force has formed to review the accomplishments and challenges of land conservation during the 30 years since the creation of the Land for Maine’s Future Program, and to lay groundwork for the future. One question the task force will consider: Has Maine already conserved enough land?

It can be difficult to imagine millions of acres being split into parcels, posted with “No Trespassing” signs, and taken out of forest management. We are fortunate that the northern half of Maine is still defined by its tradition of responsible public access to vast private lands. But we don’t have to look beyond Maine’s borders to find examples of tradition giving way to gates and sprawl.

The Forest Society of Maine is a land trust for the roughly 12-million-acre North Woods and its abundance of woods, water and wildlife. When large landowners want to explore conservation options, they often come to us.

Private forestland owners have conserved more than 2.1 million acres using permanent conservation easements, yet there are still special features and places where they and the public may decide that conservation is desired. Easements on working lands provide certainty to the forest products industry, residents and business owners, who can count on the lands around them to remain intact. Their voices, and the voices of thousands of others who treasure the integrity of Maine’s traditions and rugged landscapes, tell us that there is still work to be done.

Karin R. Tilberg
executive director
Forest Society of Maine

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