April 23, 2024

Trails Bond Heads to November Ballot


Proposal to invest $30 million on trails headed to November Ballot

On April 16th the Maine Legislature approved the Maine Trails Bond that would provide $30 million over four years to invest in the design, development, and maintenance of trails statewide. In a strong show of bipartisan support, the House voted 133-6, and the Senate voted 29-3, far surpassing the two-thirds majority votes required to pass bond measures. It was signed by the Governor on April 22nd and will appear on the November ballot for approval by Maine voters.

This will be the first time that Maine voters will have an opportunity to vote for a trails bond. At a time when outdoor recreation activities, including on trails, represent a growing segment of Maine’s economy, the Maine Trails Bond has garnered broad, bipartisan support across the state.

“This is terrific news,” said Pete Didisheim, Senior Director of Advocacy at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We’re thrilled that Maine voters will have their first-ever opportunity to support a bond that would invest in new and improved trails statewide. These investments in trails will deliver benefits for generations to come.”

The remarkably broad coalition of 520 Trails Bond supporters includes 75 cities and towns, 168 businesses, 41 ATV and snowmobile clubs, 43 statewide organizations, and 193 local organizations. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce, L.L. Bean, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Snowmobile Association, ATV Maine, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, New England Mountain Bike Association, Maine Tourism Association, and Maine Outdoor Brands are but a few of the entities supporting the bond.

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) was one of the organizations that signed on to support the bond. "Trails are integral to our way of life here in Maine. Our communities have long enjoyed access to this critical infrastructure, but we can't take it for granted," said Matt Markot, LELT Executive Director. "LELT manages over 35 miles of trails across the Lake Region and a Maine Trails Bond will enable us to better invest in these important community resources."

Enock Glidden, an Outdoor Accessibility Consultant and disabled athlete, shared his support of the Trails Bond. “As a wheelchair user and lifelong resident of Maine, I grew up in a time when accessibility was not at the forefront of most people’s minds. That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about the Maine Trails Bond. If passed by Maine voters, this bond will help provide new accessible opportunities for people like me to be surrounded by nature and reap the benefits of what Maine’s outdoors has to offer.”

LD 1156 was introduced by Representative Jessica Fay (D-Raymond), with cosponsor support from three other Democrats, five Republicans, and one Independent.

“Now more than ever, trails are critical to our quality of life and the health of Maine people. I am confident that Maine voters will embrace the Maine Trails Bond this fall, which will help fund trail projects across the state that enrich our lives, communities, and economy,” said Representative  Fay.

Senator Rick Bennett (R-Oxford & northern Cumberland County) was a co-sponsor of the bill. “Local economies across Maine will benefit enormously from this bond. I support the amazing number of organizations across the state who have called on the Legislature to place this measure on the November ballot," Bennett shared. "This is too good an opportunity to pass up.”

The Maine Trails Bond (LD 1156) will provide $30 million in competitive grants over four years to organizations and towns for motorized, non-motorized, and multi-use trail projects. Funds will be managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands for the design, maintenance, and construction of trails statewide.

Al Swett, President of the Maine Snowmobiling Association, shared his support as well. “Maine’s trails and trail clubs bring people together and help them access some of Maine’s most spectacular places. For too long, we’ve been underinvesting in our trails. But that could soon change, if Maine voters endorse the Maine Trails Bond this November – which I think and hope they will.”

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