Re: “Letter to the editor: Conservation fund needs reauthorizing” (Sept. 24):

I was happy to see Alexander Cornell du Houx’s excellent letter about the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to Maine, and the danger posed by its expiration Sept. 30.

As land manager of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative, I’ve seen firsthand how the Land and Water Conservation Fund contributes to Maine communities by supporting efforts to expand recreation access and grow local economies through cooperative conservation and protecting working forests.

The author rightly calls on Rep. Bruce Poliquin to press for a vote on Land and Water Conservation Fund reauthorization. I want to add an urgent plea to also finally guarantee full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

More than half of LWCF funds have been siphoned off to unrelated spending every year for the last half-century, meaning that Maine should have access to approximately double the amount of LWCF funding we’ve so successfully received already. Just imagine what we could accomplish.

Sen. Angus King has a unique opportunity right now, as a member of the Senate Energy Committee, to ensure that LWCF funds are dedicated so that they will no longer be diverted to other purposes. He’s been working hard on legislation to dedicate similar funding to address the serious issue of deferred maintenance in our national parks, and we urge him to ensure that LWCF funds are dedicated as well.

These dollars are critical to Maine’s future, and to expanding the kind of community-based, locally driven conservation and recreation projects that the Land and Water Conservation Fund has shown us really work – for sustainable forestry, for forest-based jobs, for the outdoor industry and for Mainers and visitors to enjoy all our state has to offer.

Steve Tatko