PORTLAND – Yesterday at Senator Olympia Snowe's Portland office, Environment Maine delivered over 5,000 messages to the outgoing U.S. Senator asking her to protect Acadia National Park before she retires. The messages came from all across Maine – collected at doorsteps, on street corners, and online – and all urged her to ensure that every acre of the park is permanently protected as the capstone on her legacy to Maine.
The resources to protect Acadia should be provided by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal conservation program that provides funding to protect treasured lands and waterways across the country. But Congress raids that fund for other purposes every year, leaving places like Acadia starved for resources. Established in 1965 and authorized at $900 million annually, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has only received full funding twice in its existence.
For the past year, Environment Maine has been working to convince Senator Snowe to champion S. 1265, a bill that would provide permanent, dedicated funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and ensure that the money is used for conservation as originally intended. Last week, both Sen. Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins signed a Dear Colleague letter to Senate leadership urging the 112th Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen the fund and protect Maine's only national park.
“We are thrilled to see Sen. Snowe and Sen. Collins speaking up to protect Acadia, but the job is not done yet," Fields said. "In part thanks to their leadership, there's real bipartisan momentum behind an effort to protect Acadia and treasured places across the country. We urge them to do everything in their power to ensure that Congress acts to strengthen the Land and Water Conservation Fund before the end of the session."
More than 2 million people visit Acadia each year, making it the country's most visited national park by acre. But because land within the park's boundaries is still privately owned, pieces of Acadia are unprotected and vulnerable to development. When these parcels of land come up for sale, the park doesn't have the resources to purchase them.
“At Acadia, families and friends have a unique opportunity to experience some of Maine’s most striking natural beauty — from taking in the views of Frenchman’s Bay atop Cadillac Mountain to biking on the 45 miles of carriage roads to exploring trails like the Precipice and Beehive," said Alexandra Fields, Preservation Associate at Environment Maine. "But development in unprotected areas of the park would ruin these landscapes and destroy fragile ecosystems for generations to come."
Environment Maine is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to preserve Maine’s open spaces, protect clean air and water, and steer the state toward a clean energy future. For more information, please visit www.environmentmaine.org