RADIO ADDRESS: Our working waterfronts, robust tourist industry and enduring rural economy all depend on the vitality of Maine’s natural resources.
Maine has made great strides in preserving and protecting our natural resources. These efforts have greatly benefited our families, our communities and our resource-based economy. But we cannot take this progress for granted.
Hello, this is Sen. Cathy Breen of Falmouth. Thanks for tuning in.
Maine has reached a pivotal juncture when it comes to land and water conservation. With three decades of land conservation under our belt, it’s an opportune time to think about how we can best build on our prior successes. The actions we take on this issue will matter not only to us but to generations of Mainers to come.
Since 1987, Maine has conserved – through a variety of ways – 20 percent of the state’s land. This includes 2.4 million acres of working forests and 45,000 acres of working farmland. While land conservation is critical for several key industries, it is also just plain good for our community. It brings people from all walks of life together in stewardship, recreation and appreciation of our native flora and fauna.
Earlier this year, I accepted an invitation to join the Task Force to Help Shape the Next Generation of Land Conservation. The group is made up of stakeholders across the political spectrum and active in both the public and the private sector. While we come from all over Maine and represent many different points of view, we all understand the value of preserving Maine’s natural landscape. Through this task force, our goal is to take stock of our progress and craft a smart, dynamic plan for the future.
To achieve this goal, the project has been divided into three stages: research and analysis, public input, and policy recommendations. Much of our research has confirmed what we already know: our working waterfronts, robust tourist industry and enduring rural economy all depend on the vitality of Maine’s natural resources. For example, our working waterfronts provide many Mainers with good-paying jobs and contribute $740 million to the economy. And last year alone, our tourism industry brought in an estimated $620 million in recreational activities.
The next phase of this project is gathering public input. If we are going to create a plan that best reflects the needs of our people and state, we need to hear from you. This week, we held two public forums – one in Bangor and one in Portland – to begin gathering feedback from Maine people. If you were unable to attend the public forums, I am encouraging all Mainers to head to www.maineconservationtaskforce.com, read through the full set of questions and submit your comments through the website. I’m hopeful that your insight and input will provide our task force with the information we need to help shape our priorities and focus our goals.
Maine’s natural landscape is central to our character and our economy. It’s critical that we do what we can to look forward and make deliberate plans for the future of our state. And we can’t do it without your help. I’m excited to be a part of this important work. The Task Force is expected to produce a comprehensive report complete with policy recommendations early next year. I look forward to sharing the final product with you.
This is Sen. Cathy Breen. Thank you for listening.