Should taxpayers subsidize Seattle-based Plum Creek’s development so shareholders can profit at the expense of Maine people?
Joint statement by Brownie Carson and Kevin Carley
“While Plum Creek continues its three-year push for Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) to rezone more than 400,000 acres of the company’s forestry land around Moosehead Lake, LURC commissioners have just ended two days of reviewing a list of changes LURC staff has recommended to the company’s proposal.
“Listening to LURC’s deliberations, we heard clearly that its staff has determined the 91,000 acre easement offered by Plum Creek is not nearly enough to balance the massive development the company has proposed for the Moosehead region.
Staff has recommended that 360,000 acres should be put under conservation easement and 29,000 acres should be purchased to mitigate for impacts to wildlife, recreation, and scenery, and to balance the extraordinary amount of development that would be allowed. These are land and an easement that Plum Creek has proposed to sell to the Nature Conservancy.
“Yet in doing so, LURC staff have, perhaps inadvertently, proposed that taxpayers subsidize Plum Creek’s lucrative development of high-end vacation homes.
“LURC standards require Plum Creek to conserve land to offset harm from the company’s massive, unprecedented development, but the public could end up footing the bill. A total of nearly $25 million dollars needs to be raised to purchase these lands and conservation easements that LURC would require; some of these funds would likely come from state and federal funds supported by taxpayers. Plum Creek and the Nature Conservancy have indicated that they intend to apply for public funds from the Forest Legacy Program to pay for this easement.
“Clearly, LURC commissioners need to consider whether tax dollars should be used to subsidize Plum Creek’s ability to irreversibly alter Maine’s Moosehead Lake region.
“Should taxpayers be required to subsidize Seattle-based Plum Creek’s development so its shareholders can profit at the expense of Maine people?
“We believe that it would be far preferable to find the right balance by paring back the massive amount of development and removing the 404 house lots proposed for Lily Bay.
“At more than 2,000 houses, hotel rooms, condominiums, cabins, or mansions, plus commercial districts, the number of subdivision lots and resort units would be the equivalent of constructing two or three additional towns in the Moosehead region north of Greenville.
“Development this massive threatens many Moosehead wildlife species and the spectacular expanse of woods and water that today is unique in the East.
“People on all sides of the debate about this proposal agree that it is Moosehead’s remote character, wildlife, and remaining wilderness qualities that draw people to the region.
“Let’s not make the public pay for out-of-scale development that will forever change the landscape that is the key to the region’s way of life and economy.”