Testimony in Support of Bonding Investing in the Economic Impact of Maine’s Natural Resources

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
in support of LD 924, 1069, and 1248
June 3, 2015

Senator Hamper, Representative Rotundo and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Approprations and Financial Affairs, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine.

We are a statewide non-partisan, non-profit, membership-based organization working to create lasting prosperity without sacrificing the way of life that defines Maine. This testimony is one component of our support for a balance of strategic investments in Maine's infrastructure, natural resources and economic capacity is essential to making headway in achieving this objective.

There are a variety of worthwhile proposals on your agenda today and GrowSmart Maine is supporting three bills that provide funding for important projects across Maine.

LD 924 provides funding for necessary improvement to Maine's state parks.  These unique areas are a source of pride for Maine, as they open up our beautiful natural areas for all to enjoy.  Our parks are also a source of economic power because the people they draw to our state, and we Mainers who enjoy them as well, spend money as part of our visits.  This isnt about choosing between the environment and the economy; Mainers can enjoy both; moreso if these investments are made in a timely manner to maintain the quality of the experience for park visitors.

LD 1069 would authorize funding to upgrade municipal culverts at stream crossings. By providing funds for a competitive grant program to match local funding, we can improve fish and wildlife habitat while improving the safety of our roads. These investments will make communities better prepared for extreme storms and flood events and likely prevent future costs of emergency replacements.

LD 1248 will replenish funds for the state's renowned Land for Maine's Future program. The farm, forest and fish bond protects Maine's natural legacy while supporting the natural-resource based economy. Conservation projects support local economies through partnerships between landowners, municipalities and state agencies protecting working farms and forestland protecting access to coastal areas for clammers and wormers, protects working waterfronts, builds and improves recreational trails and prevents the loss or degradation of deer winter yards.

Members of this committee have much work ahead, and I applaud the way you are working to meet various challenges this session. Determining the right level of investment and the appropriate balance of needs to be addressed will be yet another “opportunity” for this committee to make Maine proud. We at GrowSmart Maine will assist in any way that is helpful.