AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage has nominated three new members to serve on the Land for Maine’s Future board, which reviews and approves requests for state funding for land conservation projects.

The three nominees are: Bob Meyers of Bath, who serves as executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association; Harry Ricker of Turner, whose family runs Ricker Hill Orchards; and Fred Bucklin of Appleton, who operates Bucklin Appraisal LLC in Maine and Massachusetts.

The Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee plans to hold confirmation hearings on the three nominees at 1 p.m. on Feb. 23.

If recommended by the committee and endorsed by the Maine Senate, the nominees would fill three of the six LMF board seats held by members of the public. One of those seats is currently vacant, while the other two are filled by board Chairman Bill Vail of Saco and Ben Emory of Salisbury Cove, both of whom have continued to serve beyond their original terms until new members are seated. The three other seats on the nine-person board are held by three commissioners in the governor’s Cabinet.

LePage made the nominations after a roughly yearlong freeze on LMF funds appears to be thawing. A vocal critic of the program and of Maine’s land conservation community, LePage has held off selling $11.5 million in voter-approved bonds as he attempted to use the issue as leverage with lawmakers to support a home heating assistance program.

The governor has since said he would sell the bonds, and the Legislature approved a bill last month reauthorizing $6.5 million of those bonds, which had expired last fall.

Established in 1987, the Land for Maine’s Future program has helped conserve more than 500,000 acres of working forests, farmland and commercial working waterfronts through land sales or conservation easements. Project applicants must match every dollar from the state with private or federal money, and all conservation land projects must provide access to the public for recreational activities such as hiking, hunting or fishing.

 


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