Yesterday afternoon I went to Portland to show support for the state's environmental community at a public hearing concerning the future of the Moosehead
Lake region in the north. According to the local paper this morning more than 500 people turned out with the majority opposing a plan by the Plum Creek corporation to develop 20,000 acres
surrounding the lake. A total of 2,315 residential and resort units are planned. In addition Plum Creek wants roads, a marina, and a golf course in this pristine region.
“This is the largest single development proposal in Maine’s history,” says Brownie Carson, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine
. “Seattle-based Plum Creek will come and go, but the people of Maine will live with the decisions made in this rezoning process forever. We cannot sit idly by and allow the company to destroy what people love about Maine’s beautiful Moosehead
Plum Creek is a forest products and development corporation. Their CEO Rick Holley makes $5 million a year and sits on the board of directors of the newspaper chain that owns several key Maine newspapers. Plum Creek bought the land surrounding Moosehead
Lake for $200 per acre and will likely sell shorefront
homes for over $280,000 each.
Plum Creek pays no federal or Maine corporate income taxes. Plum Creek was fined in the past for violations of laws protecting Maine forests - the largest such fine in Maine history. Plum Creek is also the largest private land owner in the nation, controlling 8.2 million acres in 18 states. In Maine they own 928,000 acres.
When I moved to Orlando, Florida in 1974 the area was just exploding with growth from the Disney World boom. Major road projects were slicing the area into parcels that were then developed to maximize profits of those who owned huge plots of land. Orlando has many small lakes and when I first arrived there I could stand in a lake and easily see my feet as the water was crystal clear from the underground springs that feed them. When I left Orlando 20 years later to move to Gainesville
, Florida I would not have dared set a foot in any of these lakes. In 20 years time they had been destroyed from the road runoff, pesticides from lawns, and other pollutants that come with urban sprawl.
The enormous development in Orlando also created massive infrastructure pressures for roads, bridges, fire stations, shopping centers, schools, hospitals and the like. Most of these needs were left to the tax payers to fund as the development interests built their projects and left the community holding the bag. Orlando today is a mess and a toxic nightmare.
I can quickly see that Plum Creek's massive development plan will end up costing the tax payers in Maine dearly. Maine is already financially a basket case and can't repave existing roads in the state. Open up the Moosehead
Lake region for development and there will be a tremendous road building operation that the state will then have to maintain. The developers won't pay for it. And the pristine environment of Moosehead
will be forever changed in a negative way. The lake will become polluted with gas guzzling luxury boats of the super-rich, jet skis from resorts, toxic pollutants from golf courses and perfect lawns, and road run-off flowing into the lake. And wildlife will be impacted in ways that can never be recovered.
Maine's Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC
) is now holding public hearings and will then make a decision on Plum Creek's development request. If you live in Maine please be sure to write them ASAP and urge them to reject Plum Creek's request which would force the greedy corporation to come back with a more benign proposal. You can contact LURC
by sending a message to: LURC@maine.gov
My friend Jonathan Carter, extraordinary Maine environmental leader
, says "The Moosehead
region of Maine is an area of unprecedented beauty. The remote mountain peaks, extensive forests, pristine waters, clean air, native fisheries, and diverse wildlife make this region an extraordinary place of wildness. In spite of the destructive logging which has scarred the landscape with clearcuts
and logging roads over the last several decades, one can still feel the sense of being on the edge of the last frontier, which extends northward to the wilds of the Allagash
, eastward to the Katahdin
wilderness, and westward to the Canadian border and the famed Moose River region. Moosehead
represents the heart of the last remaining unprotected wildlands
in the east."
We must protect the land for future generations of humans, plants, trees, and wildlife. Please do what you can to help.