WOULD TAXES PAY THE COST OF BUYING REFUGE LANDS?
NO. Acquisition costs for new NWR units are paid from federal offshore oil and gas revenues allocated by Congress to the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. This primary source would be supplemented by special conservation revenues known as “Duck Stamps” paid by hunters and anglers. So, no general purpose federal tax dollars are used to acquire land for a new refuge.
In addition, acquisition costs would be 100% federal dollars – unlike other conservation programs (like Forest Legacy), there are no “state matching funds” requirements. Because it would be a federal land management unit, acquisition and management costs for a high peaks refuge would be the responsibility of the federal government alone, and State of Maine taxes or bonds would not be used.
HOW WOULD A REFUGE AFFECT LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES?
Like all federal land units, National Wildlife Refuges do not pay state or local property taxes. Instead, they pay “Refuge Revenue Sharing” fees, derived from congressional appropriations, and from local revenue sources like timber harvests on refuge land. In Maine, these fees have historically resulted in local payments similar to the taxes paid by timberland owners under Maine’s Tree Growth tax law.
HOW COULD A REFUGE AFFECT FUTURE PRIVATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?
Economists who study public lands find that they often stimulate economic development in nearby communities, including new recreation businesses, new residential construction, and increasing local property values. The direct effect on Franklin County’s vital recreation industry could be very positive. Adding a well-managed backcountry area featuring excellent four season trail systems, enhanced hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, and new fish and wildlife interpretation and education programs would enhance our region’s increasing economic reliance on recreation.