Press Room

Statewide Coalition Calls on Legislature to Send Maine Trails Bond to November Ballot

Feb 29, 2024 (Augusta, ME) – More than 500 organizations, businesses, and towns from across the state today urged lawmakers to pass a $30 million Maine Trails Bond so Maine voters will have an opportunity to support it on the November ballot.

In a statement to lawmakers, the remarkably broad statewide coalition said that investing in trails is a key strategy for boosting Maine’s outdoor recreation economy.

The statement reads, in part: “In literally every corner of the state, trails are a valued resource for connecting Maine people and visitors with the natural world and reaching destinations to work and play. Trails are an essential component of Maine’s $3 billion outdoor recreation economy, which supports 31,000 jobs. We urge the Legislature to support the $30 million Maine Trails Bond.”

The full list of 515 Trails Bond supporters includes: 43 statewide organizations;192 local organizations; 75 cities and towns; 167 businesses; and 41 ATV and snowmobile clubs. Noteworthy endorsers of the Trails Bond include L.L. Bean, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Snowmobile Association, ATV Maine, Maine Tourism Association, Maine Youth Camping Association, cities and towns from Madawaska to York to Rumford to Calais, and dozens of the state’s top outdoor recreation companies, sporting camps, land trusts, and trail organizations. (Map of towns with Trail Bond endorsers)

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

The bill would provide $30 million in grants over four years to organizations and towns for motorized, non-motorized, and multi-use trail projects. Funds would be managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands. This would be the first-ever opportunity for Maine voters to support a trails bond. In contrast, Mainers have approved 12 highway bonds for a total of $1.1 billion since 2007.

This winter’s storms and floods caused serious trail damage, increasing the sense of urgency for funding to help communities, trail clubs, and land trusts with the needed repair work.

“I encourage lawmakers to take a close look at the breadth, diversity, and statewide distribution of this coalition of supporters of the Maine Trails Bond and think hard about whether they’ve ever seen anything like it for a legislative bond measure,” said Gabe Perkins, Executive Director of Inland Woods + Trails and Co-Coordinator of the Maine Trails Coalition. “Mainers in every part of the state want the opportunity to vote for the Trails Bond.”

“From my background in marketing, I believe Maine has the potential to become broadly recognized as the state with the most incredible trails in the Eastern United State,” said Angela Arno, Executive Director, Piscataquis County Economic Development Corporation.  “Outstanding trails could easily become part of Maine’s brand identity, drawing people to our state for recreation, to support and start businesses, and to relocate.”

“Maine has some of the most amazing trail experiences in the country, and the potential for the future is incredible,” said John Raymond, President of ATV Maine and Northern Maine Timber Cruisers. “But to achieve that future, we need to recognize that trails do not maintain themselves. It takes hard work and money to build and maintain our trails, but Maine is not investing in our trails, even as they are battered by storms and are experiencing record use.”

“Maine’s trails and trail clubs bring people together and help them access some of Maine’s most spectacular places,” said Al Swett, President of Maine Snowmobiling Association. “Trails also create a lot of economic activity. Snowmobiling alone generates more than $600 million annually for Maine’s economy, but for too long we’ve been underinvesting in our trails.”

“Trails are one of the most important resources for Maine towns, providing outdoor experiences for people of all ages and drawing visitors who provide a real economic stimulus,” said Deb Bowker, Recreation Director, Town of Carrabassett Valley. “We’ve seen explosive growth in trail use in Carrabassett Valley over the past decade, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. The Trails Bond will help tap into that momentum, helping Maine trails rival any in the country.”

“Having worked with communities and groups throughout Maine to map out more than 500 miles of potential new trails, I’m awed by Maine’s potential,” said Steve Kasacek, Assistant Director, Outdoor Sport Institute. “But what really excites me is the opportunity to use trail building for educational purposes and workforce development. Investing in trails through the Trails Bond will create jobs and career paths in trail design and construction, and this, in turn, can provide skills and employment for our youth, as well as help draw new people to Maine. I can speak from personal experience. My family and I moved to Maine in no small part because of the state’s current trails and the potential for future trails.”

“Now more than ever, trails are critical to our quality of life and the health of Maine people,” said Representative Jessica Fay. “During the pandemic, we discovered trails that we didn’t know existed, but we also discovered that we take our trails for granted. As a state, we invest almost nothing in our thousands of miles of trails. This bond would help us realize a compelling vision that features accessible trails that enrich our lives, communities, and economy.”

“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,” said Enock Glidden, Outdoor Accessibility Specialist. “This bill will go a long way toward providing accessible opportunities for people like me to be surrounded by nature and reap the benefits of what Maine’s outdoors has to offer.”

“From Caribou to Kittery and Calais to Eustis, Maine people, towns, and businesses are urging the Legislature to send the Trails Bond to the November 2024 ballot,” said Pete Didisheim, Advocacy Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The Trails Bond provides a rare opportunity for people across Maine to find common ground on a resource we all value—trails.”

“This Maine Trails Bond would reaffirm Maine’s status as a national leader in outdoor recreation and further boost our $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,” said Jenny Kordick, Executive Director, Maine Outdoor Brands.

LD 1156 was introduced in 2023 and carried over to the 2024 legislative session. The Appropriations Committee is expected to decide the fate of the Maine Trails Bond in the weeks ahead. The bill needs a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, and the Governor’s signature of approval, to place it on the November 2024 ballot for consideration by Maine voters.