Joe Dembeck of Skowhegan casts a fly into Cold Stream in Somerset County during the summer of 2012, the year that The Trust for Public Land was awarded awarded $1.5 million in Land for Maine Future funds to help purchase and conserve the stream and more than 8,000 acres of surrounding woodland. Credit: Jerry and Marcy Monkman / Ecophotography

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s land conservation program will get one of the largest funding boosts since its inception under the state’s budget.

Lawmakers included $40 million for the Land for Maine’s Future Program. It’s the largest allocation to the program since a voter-approved bond in 1999, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The state administers the program, which provides grants to conserve land for uses such as recreation, wildlife habitat and environmental protection. The program has protected more than 600,000 acres since it began in the late 1980s.

Supporters of the program said the pandemic illustrated the need to conserve more land in the state. Jeff Romano, public policy manager at the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, said the record number of people who sought outdoor recreation showed a need for more public lands.