We must act swiftly and boldly to tackle climate change

Published 12/8/2020  |  Appalachian Mountain Club

Maine releases comprehensive, detailed four-year Climate Action Plan

Climate change is already threatening our health and safety, our quality of life, and our economy. All of Maine experienced drought this summer. Our beloved Allagash River had extremely low water levels, and the Maine Forest Service put out a record 910 forest fires. Shorter, warmer winters mean fewer opportunities to ski, skate, and snowshoe, and they fail to kill the ticks that threaten our iconic moose population. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans.

We must act now to address carbon pollution and slow and adapt to climate change. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Janet Mills, the work of her 39-member Maine Climate Council, and the input of hundreds of Mainers, we have a plan to do that. Speak up today to support Maine Won’t Wait on AMC’s Conservation Action Network.

Maine Won’t Wait is a comprehensive, detailed four-year action plan. The Climate Action Plan lays out clear and specific solutions, from updating our transportation system to modernizing buildings, reducing carbon emissions, moving to clean energy sources, to investing in our infrastructure. Among the most exciting recommendations are those related to forests and land conservation.

As the most forested state in the nation, Maine is uniquely positioned to help slow and adapt to climate change. Our 17.6 million acres of forest sit at the heart of the largest unfragmented ecoregion east of the Mississippi and absorb 60% of our annual greenhouse gas emissions. Mountainous terrain within a vast intact forest holds a diverse range of plant and animal species, supports microclimates and microhabitats, and provides the connectivity that allows species to move. All of this adds up to what is known as climate resilience, the ability to survive and thrive in the face of change.

For example, Maine’s forests and mountains create cold waters that support the last stronghold of native Brook Trout in the United States. The Western Mountains house more than half of the largest globally important bird area in the United States. These are extraordinary assets worth protecting.

Fortunately, the Climate Action Plan recognizes the value of our forests, ecosystems, and undeveloped lands. Strategy E, Protect Maine’s Environment and Working Lands and Waters, begins on page 74 and makes important recommendations to ensure their continued viability:

  • Increase the amount of conserved land in Maine to 30% by 2030
  • Fund the proven Land for Maine’s Future program
  • Establish a voluntary, incentive-based Maine forest carbon program

To that terrific list, we would add:

  • Maintain & expand the state’s system of Ecological Reserves

Ecological Reserves are lands left in their natural state to promote biological diversity. AMC owns 27,000 acres of ecological reserves which do not hamper our timber harvest operations but do support contracts for carbon offset projects.

Now the work begins, and you can help make this plan a reality.  Legislators took office earlier this month and will begin work in a matter of weeks. Now is the perfect time to introduce yourself. Please contact your legislators to let them know that climate action must be a priority for the coming legislative session. 

Forests and conserved lands not only support plant and animal habitat, but they also support the recreation so dear to AMC members and the sustainable forestry operations that are integral to our Maine Woods Initiative. Truly, they are the essence of Maine. Maine can’t wait to protect these invaluable assets.

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