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Sprawling development patterns accelerated across the New England landscape in the last three decades and consumed the region‘s forests, farms, and open spaces at an unprecedented rate. New England‘ers in all six states formed land trusts, supported statewide conservation organizations, and collaborated with state and federal partners to protect some of their most-prized recreation lands, wildlife habitats, and working lands. The current economic recession has slowed development pressures across the region and offers an opportunity to build on recent successes. The time is right to plan a coordinated New England conservation strategy that protects and links the region‘s natural assets.

In this paper, six graduate students from the Community Planning & Development program at the Muskie School of Public Service identify land use trends, ongoing challenges, and current conservation opportunities in each of the six New England States. To do this, the students reviewed reports from state, federal, non-profit, and private sources, and interviewed and corresponded personally with conservation leaders in each of the states. This paper also offers a review of the collaborative process established by the New England Governor‘s Conference to coordinate the blue-ribbon Commission Land Conservation (CLC), and the participatory process undertaken in the State of Maine to generate input and consensus on Maine‘s priorities among the state‘s leading conservationists.



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