$1.4M awarded for natural resource conservation in Maine

December 15, 2017

Contact: David Madore, Maine Department of Environmental Protection (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov; Tim Paul, The Nature Conservancy in Maine (207) 607-4809, timothy.paul@tnc.org; Tim Dugan, New England District Corps of Engineers, (978) 318-8264, timothy.j.dugan@usace.army.mil

Augusta, Maine - Nine projects to restore, enhance or protect wetlands and other important habitats around the state have been selected to receive funding from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP), the Maine Department of Environmental Protection announced today.

The program was created to help offset unavoidable impacts to protected natural resources at one site by funding the restoration or preservation of similar resources at another to maintain ecological benefits. In all, nearly 100 projects across Maine have been funded since 2009.

�MNRCP has become one of Maine�s most meaningful tools used in partnership with conservationists and developers to ensure important environmental protections. It�s a win for Maine�s natural environment, and it�s win for Maine�s economy,� said Commissioner Paul Mercer of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Projects awarded funding in this round include wetland and riparian forest conservation along the Magalloway River in Oxford County, protecting an important marsh for water birds near the Bangor Mall, and conserving 305 acres in Acton for wetland conservation and outdoor recreation. In all, $1,449,331 was awarded.

The program provides regulatory flexibility for applicants to propose and agencies to approve a fee in lieu of traditional on-site mitigation. In lieu fees are collected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and then transferred to the Natural Resource Conservation Fund. Public agencies and non-profit conservation organizations apply, through a competitive process, to use these funds for restoration and preservation in Maine.

�After all efforts have been made to avoid or minimize wetland impacts, this program provides permit applicants an efficient and workable alternative to traditional mitigation, while providing a better outcome for our wetland habitats,� said Ruth Ladd, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. �The fees are used to restore, enhance, or preserve aquatic resources and their associated uplands.�

Proposals were evaluated and ranked by a Review Committee, which was convened by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and made up of public and nonprofit entities. The final funding decisions were made by an approval committee comprised of state and federal agencies. The Nature Conservancy administers the process and is responsible for seeing that the projects are executed. In this administrative role, the Conservancy does not have a vote on which proposals are approved for funding.

�This collaboration between Maine DEP, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps is facilitating a systematic and strategic process for comprehensive compensation projects that are saving and strengthening our state�s highest value wetland habitats,� Mercer said. �These projects help ensure that mitigation funding has long-lasting benefits conserving key habitat areas around the state,� said Alex Mas, associate state director and director of conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. �All parts of Maine benefit from this comprehensive effort.�

Recipients of project funding include Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, Bangor Land Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Downeast Salmon Federation, York Land Trust, and Three Rivers Land Trust.

For more information about the Maine Natural Resource Conservation program, visit http://mnrcp.org/