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Updated: April 13, 2023

Statewide coalition backs $30M bond for Maine trails

Group indoors Photo / Courtesy Natural Resources Council of Maine At a Wednesday news conference in Augusta, Pete Didisheim, advocacy director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, spoke about the need for the proposed $30 million Maine Trails Bond.

A statewide coalition of more than 260 Maine businesses, towns and organizations are urging lawmakers to pass a $30 million bond to expand and maintain trails for hiking, snowmobiling and other purposes.

The bipartisan Maine Trails Bond bill (L.D. 1156) was introduced by state Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, and Sen. Russell Black, R-Franklin County, with cosponsor support from three Democrats, four Republicans and one Independent. A public hearing on the bill is expected in late April.

If lawmakers approve the bill, the bond would then go to voters for approval, according to a spokesperson for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which is leading to the campaign.

In a letter to Maine lawmakers made public at a State House news conference on Wednesday, supporters note that trails are an essential component of Maine's $3 billion outdoor recreation economy, which supports 31,000 jobs. Snowmobiling alone generates more than $600 million for the state's economy each year.

"Although Maine currently has many exceptional and diverse trails, trail groups and communities have identified a large backlog of trail projects that need attention, and new funding is needed to build and maintain trails that are accessible to individuals across a full range of abilities," the letter states.

"We urge the Legislature to support the $30 million Maine Trails Bond."

Signatories range from the Friends of Wells Dog Park to larger organizations and companies such as Allagash Brewing Co., L.L.Bean and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. The investment in the design, development and maintenance of non-motorized, motorized and multi-use trails statewide "will contribute to Maine's economy and environment and our quality of life," the letter says.

“From Caribou to Kittery and Calais to Eustis, Maine people, towns and businesses are urging the Legislature to invest in our trails,” said Pete Didisheim, advocacy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The Maine Trails Bond provides a rare opportunity for a stunningly broad range of Maine people to find common ground on a resource we all value — trails.”   

Jenny Kordick standing in front of water and rocks.
File photo
Jenny Kordick

Along similar lines, Maine Outdoor Brands Executive Director Jenny Kordick maintained that the bond would reaffirm Maine's status as a national leader in outdoor recreation and boost the state's  $3 billion outdoor recreation economy.

"Investments in trails are an investment in our entire state and have helped make Maine a desirable place to live, work, visit and do business," Kordick said. "Our outdoor brand and our outdoor industry will be strengthened by the Maine Trails Bond."

Find the full letter and list of signatories here.

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