Gov. LePage’s recent scurrilous attacks – alleging that land trusts don’t pay property taxes – are wrong, as approximately 95 percent of Maine land trust properties are on town tax rolls.

Great Works Regional Land Trust pays property taxes in all six towns in our service area, $21,280.88 in 2017 and $97,357 over the past five years. We require fewer services from the towns than developments would for schools, public safety, roads, etc. and we provide many public benefits at no cost to taxpayers.

Chief among these is public access for recreation to approximately 20 miles of trails maintained by Great Works, which are well used and enjoyed. Traditional uses like hunting, fishing and trapping on private property are maintained on trust lands, uses that are often lost when land ownership changes. Think what the costs would be for the towns to purchase and maintain these lands and trails through taxes.

Great Works also helps our towns to meet the goals of their comprehensive plans, protecting the rural qualities of the towns that draw people to the area, to provide wildlife habitat, to protect water quality flowing into our streams and rivers, and eventually into the Gulf of Maine and on to our beaches. We contribute to the local economy by protecting working farms and forests and the supporting businesses that they require and we contribute to the tourist draw and the vast network that caters to them.

We have had incredible support in all the towns Great Works serves, with approximately 75 percent of voters on numerous occasions supporting conservation projects. Statewide, voters have shown overwhelming support for conservation, appropriating funds to Land For Maine’s Future six times. The many public benefits of protecting open spaces are recognized and appreciated by the general population.

Michael Wright

president, Great Works Regional Land Trust