There is a view in Maine, one that is not secret and is likely blazoned upon many a postcard and photograph, that takes my breath away and puts me at ease every time I see it. You only get it for seconds, maybe minutes, before it vanishes, not to be experienced until you return to that spot again. It isn’t Katahdin or the Allagash or any iconic lighthouse on Maine’s craggy coast. It is the view of Moosehead Lake as you crest over the hill by the Indian Hill Trading Post and make your way down into the town of Greenville. Yes, you can take in Moosehead from many other spots, but what makes this view so special to me is the surprise of it after driving for more than two hours, even though you know it will be there. It connotes quiet, beauty, wilderness, calm, and any other word you can use to describe Maine or a feeling of ease.
I could speak ad nauseam about my love of Greenville and the Moosehead Lake region, after being introduced to it more than seven years ago at Lower Wilson Pond. In Maine, seven years may be equal to five seconds for those who have been here forever, so I don’t profess to be an expert on the region. However, I do want to highlight the regional planning effort that is currently taking place in the area and how you can play a role, especially if you live in the area or recreate there.
First, a bit of background. Weyerhaeuser, formerly Plum Creek, is a forestry company that owns land, and quite a bit, in the Moosehead Lake region. As Plum Creek, the company developed a concept plan for an area comprising around 400,000 acres, nearly 17,000 of which would have been developed. In 2019 Weyerhaeuser decided it wanted to terminate that plan, and petitioned the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) to throw it out. As of July 2020, the original plan was formally terminated. When the plan was terminated, the LUPC temporarily designated the previous development zones as General Management subdistricts, which are intended for forestry and agricultural activities but permit some commercial and residential development.
This is where you can come in—the LUPC has initiated the Moosehead Region Planning Project and is seeking public comments on future development and conservation in the region. The LUPC will incorporate public comments into “Discussion Maps” that will be used to prompt community discussion at public meetings during summer 2021. Participation is vital to ensuring the ecological, scenic, and recreational value of the area remain intact. Please complete the survey here.
If you are as in love with the area as I am and want to submit comments, the Natural Resources Council of Maine suggests you consider including the following points in your comments:
- Include a diversity of perspectives in all aspects of the planning process;
- Highlight the importance of the area as a tourism and outdoor recreation destination that is made possible through conservation and would be spoiled by sprawling development or development in the wrong places;
- Consider exemptions for sensitive and particularly visible areas so they are not a focus for development; and
- Encourage the LUPC to consider entry points to Moosehead Lake in the planning process and that they be zoned for their scenic and natural character.
The Moosehead Lake region is a special place, and it should remain so. I say this selfishly, but also so that everyone can experience and enjoy what it has to offer. For those visiting, it’s an escape from busy lives, chaos, and noise; and for those that live there, it’s their home. Take some time to think about what the region means to you and submit comments. If you are unfamiliar with the region, visit. Hopefully you’ll fall in love with it as I have and submit comments to help maintain its sanctity.
—by NRCM Rising Leadership Team member Heather Drake of Cape Elizabeth, Maine