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LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation

April 26, 2021

Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

RE: LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation

Dear Senator Breen, Representative Pierce, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this testimony in support of LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation, and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation. We support both bills but believe the funding and longer time frame set forth in LD 983 will best help Maine become resilient to climate change through conservation and will best achieve environmental justice by helping to ensure access to our natural resources.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We monitor the health of Casco Bay, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in efforts to protect the health of our coastal waters.

Our data show that Casco Bay is changing because of climate change. As a member of the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, we strongly advocated for measures to conserve valuable marshes and other coastal habitats necessary to sustain marine life, provide carbon storage to reduce our carbon footprint, and serve as buffers from storm surges and sea level rise. We also supported recommendations to protect working waterfront and promote the survival of our rich maritime economy.

Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) funds already have conserved vital lands along the shores of Casco Bay and ensured public and commercial access to our waters. For example, LMF funds financed the purchase of .77 acres at Holbrook’s Wharf in Harpswell. We have just deployed a continuous monitoring station off that wharf that will collect data every hour of every day, for years to come. These data allow us to track changes in water chemistry, including, but not limited to, temperature, salinity, pH, and the amount of calcium carbonate available for shell formation. There are few public access places in eastern Casco Bay where we can monitor water quality, so this site is critically important to our work. Moreover, the wharf is a vital and busy community hub, where we often see lobstermen, tourists and locals.

LMF funds also purchased public land at Mere Point in Brunswick, which allows deep water boat launching and recreational use. We monitor water quality seasonally at Mere Point. We frequently see boats launched for fishing or oyster farming, wormers digging on the flats, and families enjoying picnics and recreational boating. Again we rely upon this public access to do our own work, which in turn protects the health of the Bay for all users.

LMF must be funded at sufficient levels for the long term. As the “Maine Won’t Wait” climate action plan acknowledges, we must conserve and rely upon our natural resources to help us be resilient to climate change. We must preserve access to those resources to protect our way of life, which relies upon nature for sustenance and solace.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that this Committee support strong and long term funding for LMF.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Attorney at Law Me Bar No 7732
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca@cascobay.org