This Act would authorize the State to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed five million dollars ($5,000,000) to raise funds for the acquisition of land and interests in land for conservation, water access, wildlife habitat (including deer wintering areas) or fish habitat, outdoor recreation (including hunting and fishing), and preservation of farmland and working waterfronts, subject to a number of conditions and requirements. The bonds would run for a period not longer than 10 years from the date of issue and would be backed by the full faith and credit of the State.
Proceeds of the sale of the bonds would be expended under the direction and supervision of the Department of Conservation, which has now been merged into the new Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. See Public Laws of 2011, chapter 657, section W-1 (effective Aug. 30, 2012). The funds would be expended in accordance with the provisions of the Land for Maines Future statute, Title 5 chapter 353. The bond funds would be matched by five million dollars ($5,000,000) of funds from other public or private sources.
The Act specifies that projects that conserve and protect deer wintering areas are to be given priority in the scoring of applications submitted to the Land for Maines Future Board. It also directs the Department of Conservation and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to be proactive in pursuing conservation of priority deer wintering areas defined as areas containing at least 500 acres of land (including the acreage of any contiguous land that is already conserved) that have been used by deer at some point since 1950 and are capable of sheltering deer as of the effective date of this Act or within 20 years. Land and easements purchased by the State for wildlife or fish habitat protection must be managed using protocols provided by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Payment of bond proceeds may be made directly to cooperating entities to acquire land or interests in land of local or regional significance. In awarding funds for such projects, the Land for Maines Future Board is required to give preference to acquisitions that achieve benefits for multiple towns and address regional conservation needs including public recreational access, wildlife, open space and farmland. Cooperating entities are defined in statute (Title 5, section 6201, subsection 2) to include local governments, municipal conservation commissions, federal agencies, private nonprofit organizations, and other entities designated by the Land for Maines Future Board as able to assist the State in the acquisition or management of conservation lands.
Bond funds expended for conservation, recreation, farmland and public access to water must be matched with an equivalent amount of funding in public and private contributions. Seventy percent (70%) of the match for each project must be in the form of cash or other tangible assets, which may include the value of any land or other real property interests being acquired by or contributed to cooperating entities. The remaining 30% of the match may be in the form of in-kind contributions of goods or services related to the project, made by or to cooperating entities.
Any grants awarded by the Land for Maines Future Board with these bond proceeds for working waterfront projects must be made in accordance with the terms of the Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program established by the Public Laws of 2005, chapter 462, part B.1 This means each grant must be matched, dollar for dollar, by the organizations or local governments receiving the award and must be made subject to a condition that the property not be used, altered or developed in a manner that precludes its use by commercial fisheries businesses. The state must retain a permanent right of first refusal on any waterfront property that is acquired with bond proceeds, or is protected by an easement acquired with bond proceeds.
With the exception of working waterfront projects and farmland protection projects, hunting, fishing, trapping and public access may not be prohibited on lands acquired with these bond proceeds, except to the extent of applicable federal, state or local laws and regulations.
If approved, the bond authorization would take effect 30 days after the Governors proclamation of the vote.
A "YES" vote favors the issuance of up to five million dollars ($5,000,000) in general obligation bonds for the above activities.
A "NO" vote opposes the bond issue in its entirety.
Do you favor a $5,000,000 bond issue to purchase land and conservation easements statewide from willing sellers for public land and water access, conservation, wildlife or fish habitat and outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing and deer wintering areas, and to preserve working farmland and working waterfronts to be matched by at least $5,000,000 in private and public contributions?