People who have used Mackworth Island and Kettle Cove as a cheap way to enjoy the Maine coast got a scare last week with the news that the state would start charging fees for their use.

But then they got bailed out by a surprising source. Gov. Baldacci, who has gotten to be very good at saying “no” to those who want to spend more or raise taxes, said “no” on this issue, too.

“I am concerned that at a time when we want to encourage Maine people to enjoy the outdoors and be as physically active as possible that these fees may inhibit such activity,” Baldacci said in a press release. “Maine people clearly support these valuable places, and want them to continue to use these park areas as much as they have in the past.”

The fees that the state had proposed were not huge. Maine residents would have been charged $2 for adults and $1 for children, but that can add up. A full minivan could wind up with a nearly $10 charge, and that would be a difference-maker for a lot of families who would otherwise sit at home instead of taking a sunset stroll.

Instead, the fees will be voluntary and people who can afford to help will be asked to support the public places. Instituting the mandatory fees would have been understandable, considering the fiscal difficulties that the state has faced. But Baldacci’s decision to keep the free sites free ultimately is wiser.

The Maine coast is a treasure, but it is mostly privately owned and blocked off to Mainers who don’t own coastal property or can’t pay a park fee. It doesn’t seem right to start charging admission for the few publicly owned sites that have been free.

The governor did the right thing last week. Mainers should do the right thing as well and take some time to appreciate these sites.


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