Statement of Kevin Carley, executive director, Maine Audubon and Brownie Carson, executive director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
“Our organizations respect and appreciate the enormous service of the staff and commissioners of Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) in regard to the unprecedented Plum Creek proposal to rezone for development more than 400,000 acres around Moosehead Lake.
“Our organizations became formal intervenors in the hearing process because we want to protect the natural areas, character, and wildlife of the Moosehead region. Like thousands of Maine people who have spoken up to protect Moosehead, Maine Audubon and NRCM don’t want to see this unique and spectacular region transformed into ‘Anyplace, USA.’
“It is a region that offers an experience that is increasingly rare—the unique opportunity for people from around the world to come to Moosehead for peace, quiet and natural beauty. The fact is, they have plenty of other places to go for resort life and luxury development.
“It is our conclusion that the recommendations before LURC, while offering some important changes – such as removing development from the North Shore of Long Pond – still do not address major problems with Plum Creek’s proposal.
“We are extremely concerned that: 1) there is no reduction in the amount of development, which is still the equivalent of two or three new towns in the region, 2) development still threatens Lily Bay, and 3) the conservation easement, which LURC staff recommends making stronger, can not and does not balance such massive development.
“The staff has left the big question up to the commissioners: Is Maine willing to sacrifice the spectacular natural character of Lily Bay, the Moosehead region and the North Woods to build thousands of high-end seasonal homes?
“It is now up to the commissioners to honor the core values of LURC’s plan and mission: to protect the irreplaceable remote character of Maine’s North Woods.
“The recommendations LURC staff have made do not protect Moosehead and ensure a healthy future for its woods, water, and wildlife—all critical to the economic growth of the region.
Development Is Still Massive
“The recommendations nibble away at what Moosehead developments might look like, but they do not address the fundamental question of whether all this development belongs there.
“How can the LURC Commission justify the massive number of houses, resorts, and other types of development in Lily Bay, given the deep affection people showed for the area and LURC’s mission to protect the remote character?
“The recommendation not only ignores the cumulative impacts of all this development, but it even suggests additional future development. It gives financial resources to Plum Creek at the expense of natural resources for the rest of us.
Lily Bay Still Threatened
“Plum Creek’s proposed development still threatens Lily Bay, diminishes the value of Lily Bay State Park for quiet recreation, permanently destroys the natural character of the East side of Moosehead Lake and directly harms threatened Canada lynx.
“Ironically, Plum Creek’s plan suggests ‘nature-based’ development at Lily Bay that would likely result in roadkill of moose and the threatened Canada lynx.
“Although the staff recommends improvements to the easement, we agree with the scientists of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW), who wrote testimony saying, ‘We are not aware of mitigation or conservation measures that can fully offset the permanent changes that will result from the full build-out of a proposal of this magnitude.’
Not even an improved easement makes it acceptable to sacrifice Lily Bay and the important wildlife habitat of the Moosehead region.
“Many of the loopholes, special rules and outrageous provisions Plum Creek sought have been eliminated in the staff recommendation. For the most part, the staff recommendation asks Plum Creek to live by the same rules as the rest of us.”