How to Protect Communities from Suburban Sprawl (Sen. Susan Collins)

The people of Maine have always been faithful stewards of the forest because we understand its tremendous value to our economy and to our way of life.   From the vast tracts of undeveloped land in the north to the small woodlots in the south, forest land has helped to shape the character of our entire state.

While our commitment to stewardship has preserved the forest for generations, a threat to Maine’s working landscape requires a fresh approach.  This threat is suburban sprawl, which has already consumed tens of thousands of acres of forest land in southern Maine.  Sprawl occurs because the economic value of forest or farm land cannot compete with the value of developed land.

Sprawl threatens our environment and our quality of life.  It destroys eco-systems, increasing the risk of flooding and other environmental hazards.  It burdens the infrastructure of the affected communities, increases traffic on neighborhood streets, and leads to the fragmentation of woodlots, reducing the economic viability of the remaining working forests.

No state is immune from the dangers of sprawl.  In Maine alone, suburban sprawl has already consumed tens of thousands of acres of forest and farm land.  The problem is particularly acute in southern Maine where a 108 percent increase in urbanized land over the past two decades has resulted in the labeling of greater Portland as the “sprawl capital of the Northeast.