Maine Landowners Seek Partnership with Land Users
The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine has launched a project to create a strong partnership between Maine’s private landowners and those who use their land for recreation.
The idea for the project emerged from a December 2010 landowner relations conference hosted by the association and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine with funding help from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Environmental Funders Network. The 75 attendees included recreationists, landowners, and representatives from state agencies. Edie Smith of Maine Directions in Winthrop organized and moderated the event at SAM’s conference center in Augusta. The conference was organized to gather ideas for a comprehensive statewide landowner relations initiative and program.
One key recommendation in the plan that resulted from that conference was this: A certification system should be created by a Maine nonprofit organization that qualifies recreationists for recognition in the private landowner community and for special privileges on and access to private land. Certification would require annual good deeds by the recreationists such as cleaning up an illegal dump site on private land or working with a private landowner to improve wildlife habitat, along with the practice of the very best landowner relations based on the key elements listed above. Private landowners including those who have posted their land would be encouraged to allow certified recreationists to use their land.
SWOAM received a grant in May from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund to create the certification system.
The project will:
1) develop certification criteria that qualifies members for this program;
2) create a system for certifying members and maintaining that certification on an annual basis; and
3) create the entity needed to manage this program.
SWOAM has contracted with Harry Vanderweide and me to do this project and achieve these objectives. We got started two weeks ago at a brainstorming meeting with SWOAM’s executive director Tom Doak.
Simply put, land users will maintain an annual certification by performing projects for landowners and following a code of ethics when using someone else’s land.
We’re developing certification criteria, the code of ethics, and benefits for land users who want to participate in the program, as well as standards for qualifying projects from landowners.
For example, a program participant might be required to volunteer one full day per year to help a landowner with a project such as cleaning up litter. The code of ethics would include a requirement that land users always attempt to obtain landowner permission when using private land.
The landowners themselves would broadly define qualifying projects.
Benefits to the participants might include $10 gift certificates from Maine businesses, and ID cards to present to landowners when seeking permission to use their land.
We welcome your ideas in each category. What should a land user be required to do to qualify for this program? What would be a reasonable fee for program participants? Should there be any restrictions on landowner projects that qualify for the program? Should a state agency run this program or a nonprofit organization?
Send your ideas directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will complete the project and launch the new program by the end of the year, so we need to hear from you now!