NRCM news release
Good morning. My name is Brownie Carson and I am the Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
The Natural Resources Council is here today to announce our opposition to the largest development ever proposed for Maine. I am referring to Seattle-based Plum Creek Real Estate Investment Corporation’s plans for Maine’s North Woods. This huge development plan would change the character of Maine’s North Woods and the Moosehead region forever.
Plum Creek’s plan would scatter subdivisions totaling 975 house lots across the landscape of one Maine’s most treasured areas. It proposes two resorts, a golf course, and a marina. It proposes three RV parks, with convenience stores and gas stations and more than 100 rental cabins in the Moosehead Lake region. This plan would chop into the heart of Maine’s North Woods, dwarf area towns, and send roads, powerlines, commercial development, and more than 1,000 buildings sprawling into what is now remote and spectacular forests, lakes and mountains.
This plan will pump tens of millions of dollars into the coffers of Plum Creek Real Estate Investment Corporation but it will do very little good and much harm to the Moosehead region.
Plum Creek’s massive proposal runs counter to the traditional character and future needs of the Moosehead region due to its unprecedented size, locations of the developments, types of development, and the lack of permanent conservation.
This proposal is about profit for Plum Creek but it is not about a sustainable future for the town of Greenville. It will swamp, rather than support, locally owned businesses. It will not provide permanent protection for the forest. It will impose financial costs requiring higher taxes on the residents of Greenville because of the need for increased municipal services. Scattering subdivisions across the landscape will destroy that which is most special to residents and visitors alike – the region’s undeveloped beauty and wilderness character – important both for quality of life and for the area’s nature-based recreation economy.
This plan is so far off the mark that minor tweakings will not fix it. Promising to sell a piece of land, agreeing to remove a few lots here or there, or proposing an additional trail will not change the fact that the plan is fundamentally at odds with the rugged country and way of life for which the Moosehead region is known and loved.
We encourage Plum Creek to go back to the drawing board. Bring Maine a plan that provides permanent protection for trails, lake shores, remote ponds, and rivers that are the foundation of the nature-based recreation economy, now, and for the future. Bring Maine a plan that spurs commercial development of locally owned businesses in Greenville, not full-service resorts 20 miles away owned by out of state developers. Bring Maine a plan that provides permanent, not temporary, protection of the forest.
Some people who have heard Plum Creek’s presentation come away impressed. But there are a lot of important details in the plan that Plum Creek is not telling the residents of Greenville or the citizens of Maine. For instance:
1. The proposed 30-year “no development” zone is not permanent and it does not exclude all development. The law intends that a development such as Plum Creek’s proposal be offset with permanent conservation to strike a publicly beneficial balance. The ‘no development zoning’ that Plum Creek has proposed is not a donation, but rather their attempt to meet a legal requirement. The Attorney General’s Office has said that the proposed zoning does not provide any conservation beyond what exists under current zoning and does not ensure development will not happen throughout their lands in the future. In addition, in the so-called “no development” zone, Plum Creek has proposed the development of four new sporting camps (each twice the size of the largest sporting camp currently allowed in LURC jurisdiction) and not just a few cabins, but 116, rental cabins.
2. The proposed high-end resort just across from Lily Bay State Park could include a golf course, a marina, a spa and fitness center, restaurants, gift shops, a beauty salon, over night lodging, year round houses, condos and other commercial development. All this development would be in addition to the 975 houses and 116 rental cabins and four extra-large sporting camps already proposed. In the Suncadia resort on former Plum Creek land in Roslyn, Washington, 3,785 new housing units, including condominiums, lodges and individual houses and multiple golf courses are planned. At a resort created on former Plum Creek land in Montana, The Yellowstone Club, individual house lots run from $1.1 million to $3.2 million and only those with $3 million or more in the bank are welcome.
3. In its current proposal, Plum Creek can require proposed snowmobile and other trails to be moved at any time (or multiple times) at taxpayer expense. The trails will have no buffers from incompatible activities such as road building, clearcutting or herbicide spraying.
4. More than half of the ponds Plum Creek is proposing to protect from development are not developable anyway – because of existing laws or because they are surrounded by wetlands.
Red flags such as these appear throughout this plan, which, if it were put in place, would forever destroy what is so special about the Moosehead region.
For Mainers and visitors alike, the Moosehead region is the heart and soul of Maine’s North Woods. This region lies at the doorstep of a vast forested wilderness featuring: spectacular views across Maine’s largest lake, a string of majestic mountains, the rush of the rapids and the thrill of fishing at the East and West outlets, quiet paddles on Indian Pond, family camping and island explorations in Lily Bay, a chance to see moose around Prong Pond, peaceful starlit nights punctuated only by waves and loon calls, and the region’s gateway town – Greenville – a hub for Maine-based recreation businesses and products.
The Moosehead region is a local, state and national treasure. If you look at the eastern US in a satellite photo taken at night, you can’t help but notice the large unlit area that is Maine’s North Woods. This is the nation’s largest undeveloped area east of the Mississippi, and when it’s gone it’s gone. What kind of legacy do we want to leave our children?
LURC has indicated that they will hold a series of visioning sessions, to provide Maine people with an opportunity to express their vision for the Moosehead Region. The Natural Resources Council of Maine encourages all Maine citizens to attend these public sessions and talk about what they think is important in the Moosehead region. These visioning sessions will be the first opportunity the public has had to weigh in on this issue. People should not conclude that the Plum Creek plan is a done deal. In fact, the public process is only beginning. The voices of people who love Maine and want to protect it for future generations need to be heard.
For our part, the Natural Resources Council of Maine pledges to continue to review and analyze the fine print of Plum Creek’s 570-page proposal, and to make these details public. Check our web site often for the latest information about what this massive proposal really means.