An Ecological Reserve monitoring team collects data on the Bigelow Range in western Maine for a long-term project to monitor the state's Ecological Reserve System. Credit: Courtesy of the Maine Natural Areas Program

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As Maine faces growing threats from development, pollution and climate change, it is ever more important to protect our environment. Maine’s ecological reserve system was created by the Legislature in 2000 to maintain effective representations of all habitat types; to help conserve biodiversity by protecting habitat for species not protected on lands managed for other purposes; to serve as ecological research sites; and to provide low-impact recreation opportunities.

Ecological reserves support rare, threatened and endangered species as well as common and game species. They are large carbon sinks, sequestering and storing more above-ground carbon than other Maine lands on a per acre basis. Expanding ecological reserves is a critical part of meeting the state’s climate goals and aligned with the Maine Climate Council’s land conservation efforts.

The original 2000 law limits the size of Maine’s ecological reserve system. The goal of protecting all Maine habitat types has not been met. An ecological reserve bill, LD 736, now pending in the Maine Legislature, would remove arbitrary caps to allow designation of additional reserves. Public lands are a uniquely American idea, representing our stewardship of the Earth. Please contact your legislators in support of LD 736.

Jean Adamson