State of Maine's Environment 2005
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An Environmental Assessment  

Funding for the Acquisition of State Conservation Lands in the North Woods

Randa A. Capponi



There is a growing concern over the nearly two million acres of land that are developed each year in the United States.1 One measure of this public concern is the success rate of conservation initiatives. In 2004, voters across the country approved 75% of all bond proposals, resulting in an additional four billion for conservation.2 Another is the growing involvement of federal, state, regional, local and private actors.3 Even though states have conserved land for various reasons since the mid-1800’s, today many states are implementing policies and supplying funds for land conservation at a far greater rate.3 For example, in the 2000 and 2002 elections California voters approved three bond initiatives totaling $6.7 billion to fund the purchase of parks and open space. Overall most states have developed new programs or have expanded existing ones to fund the acquisition of lands for conservation.3

Maine has not been as aggressive as some states in acquiring land for conservation. Currently only five percent of the total land area is owned by the state, not including conservation easements.[4] This proportion of state ownership is a concern because the Maine North Woods, the largest tract of undeveloped land east of the Mississippi, is now facing tremendous development pressure.4  Maine’s major program is the Lands for Maine’s Future Program which has acquired nearly 140,000 acres of land since its creation in 1987 through the funding of two voter approved bonds of $35 and $50 million. In addition to these funds, the LMF has acquired nearly $50 million dollars from private and federal dollars. Recently, voters passed a third bond that will provide the LMF with an additional $50 million for land acquisition.5

In this paper I explore the array of factors that affect the acquisition of lands for conservation and recreation in Maine. I first describe the historical context of land acquisition in the United States and the current role of federal agencies, laws, and funding. I have chosen three states with higher proportions of conserved land in order to examine the factors that may be responsible for differences in the amount of land under conservation. To conduct a systematic study, I identify five criteria that appear to be important determinants in the process of state-level land conservation and use them to compare these three states to Maine. I use this analysis to identify key trends that are common among the states larger proportions of land under conservation. I conclude with some final lessons and recommendations that may help Maine increase its proportion of state conserved lands.


State owned conservation lands4

Figure 26. State owned conservation lands in Maine6


To identify factors that are positively or negatively associated with the conservation of land in a state, I examined two books, three academic studies, four government reports and three non-profit organization reports. In particular, I used a 2005 report by the Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance which describes the outcome of the state and county referendum and initiatives in the 2004 election to demonstrate the growing public support for land conservation.2 I used a study by Charles Malone to show state government involvement in ecosystem and natural resource management.7

I define state conservation lands as state parks, state forests, state natural areas, state historic sites, and wildlife areas.6  I do not consider conservation easements because I chose to focus my research on state-owned and acquired conservation lands. I chose Florida, Minnesota and New Jersey as case studies to compare to Maine because all three are known for aggressive land acquisition programs and also have a significant percentage of state conservation lands.




There have been three broad phases of federal land ownership in the United States. The period from 1781-1862, known as the “acquisition era,” saw a great surge in the acquisition of federal public domain lands. By the end of 1867 the federal government had acquired 1.8 billion acres of land which accounts for 81% of the United States land area.8

Following the “acquisition era” was the “disposition era,” from 1862-1891, as the General Land Office of the newly established Department of the Interior used various policies to transfer lands in the public domain to the private domain. The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged the sale of public lands to individuals to live on and cultivate.9  The final vestiges of this did not end until 1976 after 12% of the public domain in the West had become privately owned. Land was also transferred to the states and the railroads through land grants.9

This third period was the management era which lasted from 1891-1964. It became evident that many of the disposed lands were being exploited, which created public demand for the preservation of the remaining public lands, especially those that were prized scenic areas.10 A precursor to this management period was the formation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. Soon after, the Forest Reserves Act of 1891 gave the president the power to create national forests for the public good. Presidents Harrison and Cleveland were the first to use this Act to collectively conserve 17.5 million acres of national forest.9

In a relatively short period of time following the Forest Reserves Act Congress created several new agencies to manage federal lands. The National Forest Service was established in 1911 through the Reserves Act, the National Park Service was created in 1916, and the US  Fish and Wildlife Service was created in 1940. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was not created until 1946, but it initially contained many conflicting laws which made the new bureau ineffective in managing lands. It was not until 1976 with the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act that BLM was given its own legislative mandate that included a unified set of laws to manage public lands. Today these four agencies manage nearly all of the federal lands in the United States(Table 1).11


Table 18. The four major federal agencies in charge of managing public lands and natural resources throughout the United States and the amount of acres they own and manage today 10, 11, 12, 13

Federal Agency

Date Created

How is was created

Area Owned 2005 (Millions of acres)

National Forest Service


The Forest Reserves Act of 1891


National Parks Service


The National Parks Organic Act of 1916


US Fish and Wildlife Service


Merger of the Bureaus of Fisheries and Biological Survey in 1939


Bureau of Land Management


Merger of the Grazing Service and

the General Land Office in 1946



All branches of government, including the legislative, the judicial and the executive branches are responsible for making policy and laws for public lands. Congress is given certain powers over public land and natural resources. The Property Clause (Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution) gives Congress the power to make rules regarding property owned by the United States.10  The courts have often used their judicial review power in conjunction with The Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in their procedures and decision making. NEPA contains “judicially enforceable procedural standards” that allow the courts to affect or promote public land policy. The president has constitutional and legislative powers that allow him set the agenda. Through the Constitution he is given the right to be the “federal property owner” of federal.10 The president has “inherent executive withdrawal power” that he can use to protect lands that he deems necessary. Also, the Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the president the authority to use federal lands to create national monuments.14 President Clinton used this act to preserve 5.9 million acres of federal lands.14  Many presidents have taken advantage of this power to protect and preserve public lands.

There is also specific federal funding that is available for purchasing new land for conservation. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one source of federal funding that was established in 1965. The LWCF is a trust fund that acquires money from federal outdoor user recreation fees, federal motorboat fuel tax, surplus property sales, as well as from oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf. Annually these revenues total about $900 million, yet not all of this is appropriated to fund conservation. Instead a large portion of the revenue often remains in the federal treasury and is used for other federal projects.

These funds are allocated by the federal government either to the federal agencies: The National Forest Service, the National Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management or to states. The president decides what part of the annual federal budget should go to this fund every January when he presents his budget proposal to Congress. Congress then decides how much of the funds are allotted to each group. Since 1965 around 40,000 projects have been completed using LWCF funds.15

Figure 27. The amount of funds dispersed by the Land and Water Conservation Fund between 1979 and 200516


Historically, Congress has unevenly allocated this federal funding between the federal agencies and states. From 1965 to 2005, of the total $28.1 billion appropriated from the fund, only $3.7 billion went to states, which is less than 30% of the total allocation. Figure 2 shows the sporadic funding that states have received from LWCF from 1965 to 2005. In 1979 LWCF dispersed a record amount of $369 million. Following another peak in 2002, the amount has been declining15 Also, notice that in 1982 and between 1996 and 1999 states received no funding from the LWCF.16

In addition to the uneven allocation between the states and federal agencies, there has also been uneven allocation of federal funding among the states themselves. Funding is allotted to state based on individual state reports that are generated by each state every five years. These reports are called Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plans (SCORPs).15  Because the funds are allocated by Congress the amount of funding to each state can be influenced by the amount of intensity of lobbying by special interest groups. Most of the funds have gone to a total of eight states in the West and the South: California, Florida, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.3 From 1965-1998 California received a total of $600 million dollars which is 20% of the total state allocation. Florida received $230 million, or 8% of the total. Since the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been funding for conservation is often left in the hands of the individual states.


Results and Discussion

Five criteria for analysis

To produce a systematic study of state-level land acquisition, I identify five criteria that appear to be important determinants of the proportion of state land under conservation. These factors are summarized in Table 2.


Public Opinion 

According to LandVote 2004, a yearly report on the outcome of ballot measures for conservation, there is evidence that the public values land conservation. In 2004 voters approved measures for conservation that totaled four billion.2  The LandVote 2004 report also points out that the voting results were non-partisan; demonstrating that land conservation is a common value among the electorate. Part of this is due to the tangible results received from conservation lands.



This is the group of issues that usually trigger the process of land acquisition. At times the land acquisition process is influenced by the need for environmental protection. Endangered species may influence land use policy in an area. An example of this occurred in the Pacific Northwest with the conflict between protection of the spotted owl and the interest of the timber companies. Here the Endangered Species Act was used to reduce the amount of logging allowed in the “old growth” forests where the species’ habitat is located.7  In this case, land was not acquired, but it was conserved in order to protect the habitat of the spotted owl. In other cases the land may provide an ecosystem service to society making it in society’s best interest to preserve the land. An example of this is New York City’s decision to preserve the aquifers around the city’s water supply as opposed to building a water treatment plant. It in fact turned out to be much cheaper to preserve this land than to build a new plant.

One of the most common initiators of the process of land acquisition is the pressure of development. Many states are losing open space to development causing public access to be restricted. Consequently, the public realizes the need to acquire lands for conservation.



Actors involved in the land acquisition process may include federal and/or state agencies, non-profit groups, individuals such as wealthy patrons, state governors, and the president. Wealthy patrons sometimes buy land outright and donate it to the state for conservation, such as what Governor Baxter did for Maine when he created Baxter State Park.17 These individuals are not common.

Governors can be influential in drawing up and proposing initiatives for land acquisition within a state. The last governor of New Jersey, Christine Whitman, set a target in 1998 of how much land the state needed to acquire. By 2002, her targeted was exceeded. In Maine, the governor is responsible for the original bond proposal that eventually goes to fund the LMF if first passed by congress, then by voters. The higher the governor sets the amount of the proposal, the larger chance there is for the LMF to receive considerable funding. 18

The same thing applies to the President. A somewhat recent trend is that a Democratic president is more likely to propose legislation or create executive orders for the benefit of the environment. President Clinton is an example of this. While in office he used his power to preserve land.14  An exception to this idea is Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican president, also conserved land for recreation during his presidency.14   



The aspect of the process that involves a broad range of laws, acts, initiatives, executive orders or plans involving land acquisition and management. Legislation may involve acts that mandate or set up a funding program for the state. These acts are often initiated by the governor and approved by the state congress.14



This is often one of the most difficult obstacles that states face. The state government or the public may want to acquire land, but lack sufficient funds. The amount of local, state and federal  spending for land acquisition varies from state to state.3


Table 19. A summary of the five factors that I determined affect the land acquisition in a state



Public Opinion, demand, and values

-In 2004 voters from across the nation approved 75% of the 217 conservation measures on ballots which totaled four billion dollars for new conservation 2


  a. Environmental protection

     -Endangered species

     -Biodiversity protection

     -Deforestation prevention

  b. Development pressure

  c. Economics

-The Spotted Owl and the Endangered7 Species Act in the Pacific Northwest

-Preservation of aquifers in New York City7

-Prevention of additional CO2 emissions              -Protection of public access 2

-Increased property values as a result of nearby open space19


  a. Agencies- Federal or State

  b. Non-profit organizations

  c. Individuals

-Structure, number, and influence of agencies

-Land-trusts 1

-Wealthy patrons, state governors, the president10, 18, 20-22

Legislation and Programs

-Land Use Policies17


     -Comprehensive planning

-Executive orders and initiatives14



Funding and Finance

-Federal funding- LWCF15

-Public bonds2

-Non-Profit funding1


Case Studies


Maine’s North Woods are being threatened by development. Over the past seven years nearly seven million acres of the state’s 17 million acres of forestland has changed ownership. 23  This has caused alarm among the public over public access to forestland in the state. Historically, the timber companies that have owned and harvested forestland in North Woods have allowed the public to access their lands for recreation, but due to the globalization of the timber industry and the changing of ownership, this unwritten agreement is being threatened.4 With development comes the potential for restricted public access as well as the degradation of the land that is developed.

Tim Glidden of the Maine State Planning Office stresses that Maine needs to buy this land in order to assure public access to some of Maine’s most beautiful places.5  State funding for land acquisition in Maine is administered mostly through the Land for Maine’s Future Program. This program was created by the legislature in 1987 by the recommendation of Governor Brennan’s Special Commission on Outdoor Recreation in response to public support to preserve land in Maine.18  Since its creation there have been two major bonds passed by public vote that provided the funding program with $35 million in 1987 and $50 million in 1999. The last of this money was used in January of 2004 and has been put into over 120 projects around the state to acquire and protect natural resources in Maine 5. The next bond vote was passed in the 2005 election. The question asked if $12 million should be used to purchase land and conservation easements. Originally this bond measure started out in the legislature as $50 million but was cut down to $12 million before it was put on the ballot. The bond passed with 65% in favor. 24 

Although $12 million provides a good start for LMF to invest in more projects again after a full year without funding it isn’t as much as what the program has worked with in the past. In just four years following the 1999 vote for $50 million, all the funds were invested.5  That breaks down to almost $13 million each year for land purchases.

Due to a lack of funding, Maine has a small percentage of state conservation lands compared to the other fifty states. In 2000 the state was ranked 23rd.6


The state of Florida provides a model of a successful public land acquisition program due to the cohesiveness of the program and the amount of lands it has acquired. As a result of these aggressive programs, Florida’s state conservation lands account for 14.6% of the total state land area.25  Florida is also one of the most rapidly developing states as 945,000 acres of land were developed from 1992-1997. This ranks the state fourth in the country in the amount of total acres developed.26  This development pressure has been a motivating factor in getting the public and the state government to come together to use land acquisition programs to purchase conservation lands.

The program “Preservation 2000” was originally proposed by Governor Martinez in 1990 in response to public pressure to conserve lands. It includes a fund of $3 billion collected from real estate transfer tax revenue, which is allotted over ten years for land acquisition projects. In addition, state and local governments match these funds.27  Since its creation “P2000” has acquired nearly 1.75 million acres of land. This program was closely followed by the “Florida Forever” program in 1999 which basically extended “P2000” for another ten years. In the last five years the Florida Forever program has acquired more than one million acres of lands.27

In addition to its land acquisition programs, a study of the fifty states showed that Florida also has the most extensive and comprehensive ecosystem management plan. Ecosystem Management attempts to preserve natural resources and maintain economies for present and future human generations.7 The plan was developed using Florida’s “Environmental Reorganization Act,” which was passed in 1993. This act created a new office in the state’s Department of Environmental Protection called the Office of Ecosystem Management (OEM). The OEM combines natural resource management with environmental protection. Here we see another example of partnership through a merger of two state environmental agencies. Other states that have integrated agencies like Florida include Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. The office is mandated to acquire new public lands relying heavily on public participation through public hearings. Of all the states with ecosystem management, Florida is the only state that actually mandates the acquisition of lands for ecosystem management.7


Minnesota is a second example of a state with a sound conservation funding program. Effective funding strategies have greatly increased state conservation lands to 17% of the total state land area, or 8.4 million acres.28  The state is also experiencing development pressures and the rapid changing of hands of forestland similar to Maine. A study of conservation lands and state population growth between 1990 and 2000 showed that although total conservation lands increased by 1.8% to 5.3 million acres or 10.6% of the total state land area, state population increased at a faster rate. This in turn reduced the number of acres of conservation lands per person in the state.29, 30

Minnesota’s aggressive funding includes the use of general bonds for conservation, which is 46% above the national average. The state also uses lottery revenue, cigarette taxes and environmental license plate revenue.31  Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund is a permanent fund for land acquisition that was approved by voters in 1988. The trust receives 40% of its funding from annual state lottery revenue. From 1991-2003 the trust fund provided $174 million for 287 projects.31, 32  The aggressive funding continued in January 2004 with a statewide bond proposed by Governor Tim Pawlenty for over $20 million dollars for land conservation33.

Minnesota provides parallels to Maine because it also has a large area of forested lands. The map below indicates the amount of conserved forestlands in the northern part of the state, which varies from 10-55% in northern counties. Minnesota has 57 state forests totaling nearly 4 million acres.28 In addition to state forests, Minnesota also has two large national forests-Chippewa and Superior located in the northern part of the state. 29


Figure 28. Approximate percentage of state owned land by county in Minnesota28


New Jersey

New Jersey is a third example of a state with aggressive and extensive funding programs for land acquisition. From 2000 to 2005 state conservation lands in New Jersey increased from 739,000 to nearly 1.1 million acres. State conservation lands now account for 22% of the state’s total land area.34

 Similar to the other three states, New Jersey has seen large increases development in recent years. From 1992-1997, developed land in the state increased by 15%. Through bond voting, the residents of New Jersey have shown that they are concerned about development pressures and are willing to help fund land purchases to prevent the loss of open space in the state.2

In the 2004 election, New Jersey had 44 county and municipal conservation measures on the table throughout various counties and cities in the state. Of these 44 local measures, 73% passed adding up to more than $270 million to fund programs for the acquisition of open space. In the 2005 election 210 municipalities from all 21 counties in New Jersey voted on measures that would allot tax revenue for the acquisition of conservation lands.22

Many of these funding programs raised money by increasing local property taxes. The revenue from these various taxes went to acquisition and/or improvement of open space, parks, recreation, water, farms, and historic properties. New Jersey had the highest number of these measures on county and municipal ballots in the country. Michigan had the second highest amount with 20.2 

Not only has the public voiced their opinion on land conservation, the governor has also taken a firm stance on this issue. In 1998, Governor Whitman set preservation targets for 2002, 2008, and 2010. The target for 2002 was set at 1,004,000 acres of open space to be preserved. Due to the governor’s support as well as with the state’s successful voting measures, the 2002 target was exceeded by 62,000 acres. As of 2002, 20% of the state of New Jersey was preserved as open space.35

In terms of statewide funding programs, New Jersey created the Green Acres Program in 1961.22  From 1961 until 1995 the Green Acres Program passed 9 statewide bond issues totaling $1.4 billion.22

In 1989 legislation was passed that allowed counties in New Jersey to create voter approved Open Space Trust Funds. Money is acquired for these funds through property taxes. By February of 2002, 19 of the total 21 counties in New Jersey approved this fund through a referendum. Since its creation, the fund has acquired a total of 48 million for land acquisition.19 

Also, in 1999 the state legislature passed the Garden State Preservation Trust Act which provided for a stable source of funding for preservation efforts.22  With this act the state uses a portion of sales tax revenues to set aside $98 million a year for land acquisition. The act also allows for the allocation of one billion dollars in public revenue bond proceeds each year.36


Comparison of Case Studies

My analysis of the role of these five factors in the four states examined suggests some key trends. Table 3 below gives a summary of the factors present or not present in each state.


Table 20: A summary of the criteria for land acquisition in each of the four case studies.


Public concern

Development Pressure

Governor and State Gov.

Local Gov.

Key state programs

State and local grants







Land for Maine’s Future Program

$30 million







Florida Forever

$100 million

New Jersey





Green Acres

Open Space Trust Fund

Garden State Preservation  Trust

$100 million






Environment and Natural Resources Trust Act

$58 million


Public concern

The public was one of the initial drivers in all four states considered. Across the country we see that public voting consistently supports the acquisition of conservation lands. Conservation voting has become a non partisan issue as both blue and red voters are supporting these measures. One reason for this may be the fact that it is a tangible issue that voters perceive to be in their “backyards,” which causes the voters to vote “green.” 2 The report also suggests that this support is being motivated by the growth in the population that is resulting in the loss of open space and public access.2


State governors

State governors have the potential to greatly influence land acquisition. They have shown this through the initiation of programs, bond proposals, and general goals and targets for land conservation. The Land for Maine’s Future program was created by Governor Brennan’s Special Commission on Outdoor Recreation.18  In Florida, Minnesota, and New Jersey policies and bond proposals were initiated by the state’s governors. Florida’s Preservation 2000 was initiated by Governor Martinez in 1990. The follow up program to P2000, Florida Forever, was initiated by Governor Bush in 2000. Governor Whitman in New Jersey set the standard for the state to acquire 1 million additional acreage of open space by the year 2010.21  In conjunction with public approved bond funding, the Green Acres Programs, the Garden State Preservation Trust Act, and the Open Space Trust Funds, New Jersey is well on their way to meeting the governor’s target.22


Local governments

Local governments can have a big impact on land acquisition. New Jersey is the national leader in local action due to the amount of county and municipal bonds on the ballot.2   In the 2004 election, New Jersey voted on the highest amount of local conservation bonds than any other states in the country. There are also mant local funding programs in local communities in New Jersey that raise money for conservation by increasing local property taxes. The revenue from these various taxes went to acquisition and/or improvement of open space, parks, recreation, water, farms, and historic properties.2 Local citizens are more likely to fund land conservation in their communities due to the tangible returns they receive.


 Funding programs

States with considerable land under conservation have established aggressive funding and land acquisition programs to purchase land for conservation. In conjunction with these programs, I found that states have a variety of funding tools available for land acquisition. Some of the more common mechanisms used are taxes which vary from sales taxes, income taxes, real estate transfer taxes, local taxes, property taxes, and cigarette taxes. Bonds appear to be a popular funding mechanism among states. States also use lottery and license plate revenue for conservation funding.

Maine had the least aggressive program in terms of total funding of the states that I studied. Maine’s major source of funding for land acquisition comes from the Land for Maine’s Future Program. Since 1987 Maine voters have approved three bonds totaling $97 million, which is comparatively small to other states such as California, where voters have approved three bonds that totaled $6.7 billion.3 The other three states studied provide examples of aggressive funding programs.

First, Florida’s land acquisition program is known as one of the most aggressive and largest land acquisition programs in the United States. The programs of P2000 and Florida Forever use real estate transfer tax revenue to fund land acquisition, then state and local government match the funds for purchasing land for conservation. Together these programs have acquired nearly 2 million acres of state conservation lands.37

Second, Minnesota voters approved the Environment and Natural Resources Trust in 1998 as a permanent fund for land acquisition. This trust receives 40% of its funding from annual state lottery revenue. Minnesota is known to have one of the most effective funding strategies with funding coming from a variety of sources such cigarette taxes, conservation license sales, state lottery revenue, sales taxes, as well as from general bonds. Minnesota’s use of general bonds for conservation is 46% above the national average.31

Third, New Jersey was ranked second in 2001 for conservation funding.22  New Jersey has three state funding programs for conservation. In 1961, the Green Acres Program was established. From 1961 to 1995, this program received money from the passage of nine statewide bonds totaling $1.4 billion. The Open Space Trust Fund which has received $48 million from local property taxes since its creation in 1989. New Jersey’s third program, the Garden State Preservation Trust, was established in 1999. This program provides a stable source of funding for preservation efforts from sales tax and public bond revenue. Each year the trust acquires nearly $98 million dollars. 38

A study done on conservation lands  ranked the fifty states in terms of total federal and state spending from 1965-1998. In this study Florida ranked 2nd, New Jersey 10th, Minnesota 21st, and Maine was 35th. In this same time period Maine spent $31 million on open space protection whereas Minnesota spent $58 million and both Florida and New Jersey spent around $100 million.3 


Funding per capita

However, I must also point out that state conservation funding may be misleading unless population is taken into consideration. Figure 4 demonstrates that Maine has the smallest amount of state and local grants (as seen in the dark green column). However Maine state conservation spending per capita is the highest at 23 dollars per person as seen in the light green column. Conversely, Minnesota and New Jersey spend 11 dollars per person and Florida only spends less than 6 dollars per person on conservation. One reason for this is the relatively low population density compared to the other three states. Maine has only approx 1.3 million people whereas Florida has 17.4 million people to disperse the tax burden between. Also, as mentioned before, Florida receives a significant amount of funding from the federal government.


Figure 29. A comparison of total state and local conservation spending and conservation spending per capita in Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Florida3

State conservation lands

Figure Finally, as Figure 5 shows, Florida, Minnesota, and New Jersey each have a larger percentage of state conservation lands compared to Maine. A lot of this is due to the more successful funding strategies that have been used by these three states. In addition, both Minnesota and New Jersey have a larger increase over the five year period. Minnesota’s increase is due in part to the array of funding tools used to acquire land in the state. New Jersey has the largest increase in state conservation lands as well as the largest overall percentage of total state land area of at 22%. This large percentage and overall increase is a result of the success of local bond initiatives in the past elections, especially in 2004 when a total of $270 million was approved to fund land acquisition in local communities around the state.2


Figure 30. Percentage of total state land area that is set aside as state conservation lands in Maine, Florida and New Jersey in 2000 and 20056, 25, 29, 38



Maine has a low percentage of state conservation lands at five percent. While the Land for Maine’s Future Program has been effective to date, it still lacks the funding necessary for the purchase of large-scale conservation lands such as those in the Maine North Woods. In addition Maine already has high per capita spending on conservation at 23 dollars per person, making it necessary to implement alternative funding mechanisms in order to conserve the land in the Maine North Woods. Although funding is one of the major obstacles of land conservation for many states, Maine could learn from the wide variety of funding tools that have been successful in other states. Here are some possible options that we have seen in my case studies: 


 Minnesota provides parallels to Maine because it is also less-densely populated and contains an abundant amount of lakes and forestland. Minnesota is also experiencing the privatization and development pressures in their northern woods. Unlike Maine, Minnesota has one of the most effective funding strategies in the country. For these reasons Maine may want to look at some of funding policies in Minnesota and perhaps use more revenue from the state lottery or cigarette tax to purchase lands.


New Jersey

New Jersey is the national leader of local government action for conservation funding. Local voter bonds have been a successful funding mechanism in the acquisition of state conservation lands. This is one of the reasons that state conservation lands in New Jersey have increased from 15.6% to 22% in the last five years. The initial step to getting more bonds on the ballot is under the authority of Maine’s local mayors in addition to other representatives of local communities. The public help this process by writing to the mayor or local representative regarding the need for more state conservation lands. Lobbying the legislature for statewide bonds is another tool the public has access to.


Florida could be used as a model to set up programs such as Florida’s P2000 and Florida Forever which together have acquired two million acres of state conservation land. Both of these programs have been greatly supported by the state governor and funded by tax programs that are then matched by state and local funds. Florida also receives a lot of help from the federal government. To potentially tap into some of these federal funds, Maine needs to increase its’ lobbying of Congress. Also, Maine should demonstrate the need for more state conservation lands in Maine to the Land and Water Conservation Fund in order to receive more federal funding.

With more funding as well as the proper allocation of this funding, Maine would be capable of purchasing lands for large-scale conservation in the Maine North Woods and beyond.


Literature Cited


1Land Trust Alliance, "National Land Trust Census", in 2004).

2The Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance, "Land Vote 2004: Americans Invest in Parks and Open Space", in 2005).

3Linda E. Hollis, William Fulton, "Open Space Protection: Conservation Meet Growth Management", in 2002).

4The Wilderness Society, "Northern Maine: Vast Expanse", in 2005).

5John Holyoke, "Bond issue helps save land access," in, Bangor Daily News (Bangor, 2005).

6The Natural Resources Council of Maine, "Public Land Ownership by State", in 2005).

7Charles R. Malone, "State governments, ecosystem management, and the enlibra doctrine in the US", Ecological Economics 34 (2000): 9-17.

8Bureau of Land Management, "BLM Public Land Statistics 1999", in 2000).

9John B. Loomis, Integrated Public Lands Management: Principles and Applications to National Forests, Parks, Wildlife Refugees, and BLM Lands (New York, 2002).

10Robert B. Keiter, “Keeping Faith with Nature: Ecosystems, democracy, and America’s public lands. (New Haven, 2003).

11Bureau of Land Management, "Bureau of Land Management: BLM Facts", in Department of the Interior, ed.2004).

12Bureau of Land Management, "Surface Acreage Managed by the BLM", in Department of the Interior, ed.2003).

13US Fish and Wildlife Service, "Origins of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service", in National Conservation Training Center, ed.2005).

14V. V. Donn, Public Lands: Current Perspectives (New York, 2003).

15National Park Service, "Land and Water Conservation Fund", in Department of the Interior, ed.2005).

16Jeffery Zinn, "Land and Water Conservation Fund: Current Status and Issues," in  (Washington, D.C., 2001).

17Advisory Committee on Open Space, "New Castle on Open Space, Open Space Protection", in 1999).

18Richard Barringer, Hugh Coxe, Jack Kartez, Catherine Reilly, Jonathan Rubin, "The Land for Maine’s Future Program: Increasing the Return on a Sound Public Investment ", in 2004).

19Trust for Public Land, "State Funding Profiles: New Jersey", in 2005).

20David J. Lewis, "Easements and Conservation Policy in the North Maine Woods", Maine Policy Review  (2001).

21New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, "Land and Natural Resources", in New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, ed.2000).

22Green Acres Program, "2005-2007 Land Preservation Plan", in New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, ed.2004).

23John Richardson, "Landowners feel pressure to cash in ‘green’ gold," in, Portland Press Herald (Portland, 2005).

24Then Maine Democratic Party, "Homepage", in 2005).

25Florida Natural Areas Inventory, "Summary of Florida Conservation Lands", in 2005).

26James B. London, and Nicole L. Hill, "“Land Conversion in South Carolina: State Makes the Top 10 List.”"  (2000).

27Florida Department of Environmental Protection, "Preservation 2000", in Deparment of Environmental Protection, ed.2005).

28John Helland, "State-Owned Land in Minnesota", in Minnesota House of Representatives, ed.2002).

29Minnesota Department of Administration, "Minnesota Milestones: Measures that Matter", in Department of Administration, ed.2001).

30Natural Resources Council of Maine, "Maine North Woods Project", in 2005).

31State Environmental Resource Center, "Innovative State Legislation: Conservation Funding", in 2004).

32Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources, "Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund," in Minnesota State Legislature, ed.2005).

33Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, "DNR portion of 2004 bonding bill to focus on habitat, flood mitigation", in Department of Natural Resources, ed.2004).

34Green Acres Program, "“2003-2007 New Jersey Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, in New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, ed.2003).

35New Jersey Sustainable State Institute, "Protected Natural Resources: Preserved and Developed Land", in 2005).

36Green Acres Program Bureau of Planning and Information Management, "New Jersey Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan," in NJDEP, ed.2003).

37Florida Department of Environmental Protection, "Florida Forever", in Department of Environmental Protection, ed.2005).

38Green Acres Program, "2005-2007 Land Preservation Plan," in New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, ed.2004).

[1] In Maine, the coast and the south have already experienced development pressure. The Maine North Woods is now starting to see some of this same pressure.

[2] In any given category, if a state is listed as “No,” it does not mean that the state has none of this characteristic; it means that there is not a significant amount.




State of Maine's Environment, Colby College, Environmental Studies Program
Content by Students in ES493: Environmental Policy Practicum
Philip Nyhus, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
5358 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, ME 04901 USA; Email Us