Keep Maine the best it can be

Land — they're not makin' any more of it.

Mainers have always known that buying land is a smart investment. That goes for individual Mainers: farmers, homeowners and woodland owners; and it also makes sense for Mainers as a whole. Question 3 on Nov. 2 will help Mainers continue investing in the Land for Maine's Future program and the state parks.

Land for Maine's Future has a proven track record in every county, with almost 200 projects guaranteeing public access for many activities, including hiking and biking, snowmobiling, hunting and fishing. Our park system is a network of 48 state parks and historic sites across the state, from Kittery to Fort Kent, Grafton Notch to Lubec.

One LMF success is right here; our newest state park, Androscoggin Riverlands. This 2,500-plus acre piece of heaven along the Androscoggin River was acquired in 1990 and expanded in 2007 and 2010 as a result of past LMF bond issues. Earlier this year, it was formally designated Maine’s newest state park. This park is part of a larger project in which the Maine Department of Conservation is collaborating with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Farmland Trust, The Conservation Fund, Mahoosuc Land Trust, and Androscoggin Land Trust. This effort protects fisheries and wildlife habitat, supports a working forest and farming landscape, and improves recreation opportunities, such as boating, fishing, hunting, hiking and bicycling, snowmobiling and ATV use. Local leadership and local partnerships have guided every step.

All these activities make central Maine a more enjoyable place to live, and create economic growth in Androscoggin County. That is the mission of GrowSmart Maine. We are a statewide nonprofit organization, working with Mainers to truly make Maine “the way life should be.”

This means creating economic growth on a foundation of our quality of place; that unique combination of assets that makes Maine, well, that makes this place Maine.

It means downtowns with businesses, shops and restaurants. It means village centers where we can walk from church to the general store. In Monmouth, it even means walking to Cumston Hall to see live theater and visit the library.

Coupled with livable downtowns of all sizes, Maine's quality of place means enjoying the outdoors. We work in it and we play in it. We all enjoy it.

Many Mainers are working farmers, loggers, foresters and fishermen who produce and harvest food, fiber and more; all the while, protecting our natural resources from sprawling development.

But we can't do it alone. We all play a role in keeping the best of Maine as we know it now — working farms, forests and waterfront, and with a natural landscape we can enjoy; whether hiking with a camera, or snowmobiling, ATVing, hunting and fishing.

Voting for ballot Question 3 will ensure we can continue to do all these things.

Passage of the Question 3 bond issue will make available $9.75 million for investments in Maine's future. It will be matched by another $9.75 million from other sources. Part of that funding, $500,000, will go to capital projects such as playgrounds and bathrooms at Maine state parks, which will be matched by another $500,000 in federal funds to complete $1 million worth of work while supporting 60 construction jobs.

Land for Maine's Future has a successful track record in support of Maine's farmers and fishermen, as well as Mainers who enjoy outdoor recreation of all kinds. Land for Maine's Future and our state park system are successful in building economic growth based on the beauty and productivity of our natural landscape. And there is much more still to do.

We all win with Question 3.

Nancy E. Smith is a licensed forester and executive director of GrowSmart Maine. She lives in Monmouth.