Yesterday, Governor Mills announced the launch of a new initiative through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to invest $50 million in rebuilding infrastructure in Maine’s state parks. The new investment will make Maine’s state parks more enjoyable and accessible to Maine people, as well as draw additional visitors who spend their money year after year at our restaurants, hotels, and other small businesses. It also serves as a reminder that Mills’ predecessor, Paul LePage, neglected Maine’s state parks during his time in office, and often fought against programs to preserve Maine lands for recreational use.
As Governor, LePage not only made no serious investment in Maine’s state parks, he went to war against the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program, the primary funding source for land conservation in the state. He blocked new conservation spending and allowed $6.5 million in voter-approved LMF bonds to expire. His obstinate opposition held up a number of conservation projects across the state and drew criticism from Maine’s sportsmen and women, with the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine going as far as to say that, because of LePage, “once-in-a-lifetime investments in rural Maine jobs and wildlife are drawing dangerously close to collapse.”
“From our hunters and fishers to our hikers and campers, Governor Mills understands that there is nothing that unites Mainers quite like our shared love for the beautiful lands and waters of our state,” said Drew Gattine, Chair of the Maine Democratic Party. “That’s why she’s put so much effort into improving our state parks and investing in land conservation. Paul LePage’s indifference to the well-being of our state’s natural beauty—and to the revenues tourism brings to our local economy—shows just how out of touch he is with Maine people.”
After taking office in 2019, Mills, an avid angler, took action to shore up Maine’s public lands after LePage ignored them. In addition to yesterday’s initiative to invest in our state parks, Gov. Mills has also announced five new Land for Maine’s Future projects – for a total of 25 now – and worked with the legislature on a bipartisan proposal to refund the conservation program through one of the largest cash infusions for conservation in Maine’s history. The investments come as record numbers of people are visiting Maine’s outdoors, and applications for conservation projects are surging.