Building on the tremendous success of Beginning with Habitat, the Maine Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) has initiated the planning necessary to implement the recommendations developed by Beginning with Habitat and other initiatives to conserve important habitats for rare, threatened, and endangered wildlife, plants, and natural communities in Maine. LIP funds are being used in Maine to initiate a landowner incentive program that offers a variety of tools to landowners for rare and endangered plants and wildlife habitat conservation including funds for conservation easements, cooperative management agreements and habitat management activities.
The program is funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is administered by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife while the Maine Natural Areas Program facilitates outreach for the Program. MDIFW and MNAP staff convenes the Maine LIP Steering Committee which include representation from: MDIF&W, MNAP, ME Forest Service, ME Department of Agriculture, USFWS Gulf of Maine Project and USFWS Field Office, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Maine Audubon. With wide representation across Maine’s conservation community, the Steering Committee provides an important outreach and program coordination function.
The results of this effort produced a valuable mapped suite of species-at-risk Focus Areas that include the best examples of rare species populations and high quality natural habitats in Maine.
The culmination of this work came when the State of Maine received $1.3 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the establishment of a Landowner Incentive Program. Designed to protect these identified rare, threatened and endangered species habitats, the program provides private landowners with financial and/or technical assistance for managing their lands for the protection of rare plant and animal habitats.
As a result of the Maine Landowner Incentive Program, more than 2,500 acres of critical habitat within 15 eligible focus areas are set to be protected. In addition, resources will also be available to protect habitat for bald eagles, piping plovers and Furbishs lousewort, an endangered plant along the St. John River.
Eligible Focus Areas
Twenty Focus Areas across Maine were selected as sites for conservation efforts. Landowners in these twenty Focus Areas are eligible for funding (see Overview Map):
Under the Landowner Incentive Program, when you place an easement on your land, you voluntarily limit or relinquish some of the rights to your property, in return for the peace of mind that your property will forever remain in tact and available to the wildlife it supports. In order to guide the permitted uses, the conservation easement also includes a management plan specific to the at-risk resources occurring on the parcel. The prospective easement holder, a nonprofit land trust, will work with you to tailor an easement that protects the land’s natural and cultural values as required by the landowner.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS TO THE LANDOWNER
?? The sale or donation of an easement allows the landowner torealize a portion of the economic value of the protected land without the need to develop it.
?? Landowners retain title to their property and may continue to live on it, sell it, or pass it on to heirs, knowing that it always will remain protected.
?? Easements provide permanent protection, applying to all future landowners. A land trust or government agency upholds the restrictions over time.
?? Easements may reduce property tax by eliminating unwanted but highly valuable development potential.
?? Easements can aid in estate planning, reducing estate taxes that could force the sale of family lands. Donated easements also can provide a charitable income tax deduction.
As funds become available, the LIP Steering Committee will announce an open application period. Currently, all funds for the Beginning with Habitat Focus Areas award have been allocated. Please check back often, as we anticipate further funding.
Contact Maine Landowner Incentive Program