The Land for Maine’s Future Board has authorized more than $9 million to be spent on 30 land conservation projects to preserve public access to forests, lakes and rivers, protect working farms, maintain thousands of acres of deer habitat and provide coastal access for the commercial fishing industry.

Board members voted this week to provide $9.15 million to fund the projects, which are in 37 communities and 13 counties.

The projects vary widely in size, from 10,215 acres northeast of Moosehead Lake and 13,875 acres of forestland in the region around Gulf Hagas and Maine’s 100-mile wilderness, to protecting 215 acres and pond frontage in Cumberland and North Yarmouth and acquiring a 0.7-acre parcel on the Saco River in downtown Biddeford for canoe and kayak access.

Officials said Tuesday’s decision to spend the voter-approved bond money represents a significant step forward after the Land for Maine’s Future program stalled amid several administrative changes and funding delays over the past couple of years.

The funds that will be used for the projects approved this week were authorized by voters in 2010 and 2012. The Land for Maine’s Future program put out a call for land conservation proposals last fall, which led to the announcement.

“Nearly everyone who applied will get money,” said William J. Vail, chairman of the Land for Maine’s Future board and a former commissioner for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “These are big projects, which should pay big dividends for the residents of Maine.”

Vail said it could take several more weeks before the program can identify the exact amount of funding each project will receive. The money in most cases won’t actually be borrowed by the state until conservation easements and land acquisitions can be finalized, he said. Applicants will also have to provide matching funds for projects – at least equal to the funds provided by Land for Maine’s Future.

The Land for Maine’s Future Coalition, which represents a number of different conservation agencies, applauded the board’s decision, saying it will bolster the state’s tourism industry, increase access for sportsmen, and enhance Maine’s natural resource based economy.

“This latest round of strategic investments in land conservation could not have come at a better time for individuals and businesses who enjoy and benefit from Maine’s great outdoors,” Tim Glidden, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s president, said in a press release.

“We are especially thrilled with the board’s approval of projects in this round that will lead to the long-term protection of fragile deer wintering areas,” said David Trahan, Executive Director for the Maine Sportmen’s Alliance.

Here is a partial list of the project proposals that were accepted by the Land for Maine’s Future Board. Funding amounts will be announced later this year:

Seboomook expansion in Somerset County – 10,215 acres northeast of Moosehead Lake, including deer wintering habitat and land used for maple syrup production, access to Canada Falls Lake and a popular snowmobile trail connecting Pittston Farm to Jackman.

 Gulf Hagas-Whitecap project in Piscataquis County – 13,875 acres of scenic and recreational value in the Gulf Hagas region, including streams, campsites and four mountain peaks and a significant portion of the Appalachian Trail.

 Knight’s Pond and Blueberry Hill in Cumberland and North Yarmouth – 215 acres with pond frontage and the summit of Blueberry Hill.

 Biddeford River Walk project – small parcel of land near Mechanics Park will provide the opportunity to launch canoes and kayaks.

 Gardiner Pond in Wiscasset and Dresden – 362 acres will protect the pond from development and provide public access for fishing, swimming and hiking.

 Falmouth conservation corridor – 250 acres in North Falmouth near Blackstrap Road to be protected from development.

 Winterwood Farm in Freeport – 39 acres to ensure the farm will forever be used for agricultural purposes.

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