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Deirdre Fleming: Funding for projects may be headed to Maine

by Deirdre Fleming, Portland Press Herald, December 25, 2011

[Ed.'s Note: This article describes USM Professor Richard Barringer's tale of an outdoor funding windfall heading for Maine, one which might happen in 2012. Key Quote: "And in southern Maine this year, a windfall of bicycle and pedestrian grant cash allowed the East Coast Greenway, called the Eastern Trail here, to get a bridge over Interstate 95 in Kennebunk and another over Route 1 in Saco -- nearly turning it into a contiguous off-road trail through seven urban towns."]

Professor Richard Barringer likes to start at the beginning when he begins the tale of the outdoor funding windfall heading for Maine. But really, the good timing and hope in this story is in what could happen in 2012.

Either way, his story is one worth telling on Christmas Day.

Last year the University of Southern Maine professor handed a report he was commissioned to write by the New England governors to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar who, he said, passed it on to President Obama. And the chiefs at the helm of America's outdoors policy liked what they saw.

Barringer's report very closely aligned with Obama's goals laid out in America's Great Outdoors initiative rolled out by the president in April 2010. It highlighted seven projects around major natural corridors in New England that with relatively little funding could change the way Americans here live, work, play, recreate and relate to the environment.

These projects would fight childhood obesity, reinvest our collective passion in land, and bring nature and good health into our everyday lives.

But like a seasoned professor, Barringer takes even a bigger view of the history that could play out here.

"Let me take you back further, all the way back to 1908 when the governors of New England gathered to talk about the devastated headwaters, the logging practices," Barringer said Thursday. "The result of that meeting was the Green Mountain and White Mountain national forests. In 2008, the New England governors memorialized that meeting and created this commission on land conservation."

Read the full article on-line here.

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