NRCM news release
Statement by Cathy Johnson, NRCM North Woods Project Director
The Moosehead Lake area is a gem for local residents, and for people across the state and the nation. There is nothing that we would like better than to see this area of the state permanently protected. The spectacular mountaintops, undeveloped ponds and remote forests of the North Woods are part of Maine’s heritage and should be preserved so that future generations may enjoy them. It is the beautiful, undeveloped forest land that is the backbone of the region’s forest products and tourism economy.
Plum Creek’s development proposal for 426,000 acres of land in the Moosehead Lake region raises some very important questions. This is the largest development proposal ever in the state of Maine.
The proposal includes 975 new house lots, 5 – 10 times more house lots than the biggest proposal ever reviewed by the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC). Based on the average rate of development of new homes in LURC jurisdiction, we would expect to see about 250 new homes in an area of this size over the next 30 years.
The proposal also includes three commercial RV parks, a major 3,000-acre resort in Lily Bay, a commercial lodge on Brassua Lake, a 1,000-acre commercial industrial area, four new commercial sporting camps, and a system of rental cabins. Taken together these developments could add a thousand or more additional houses, condominiums, cabins and rental units.
This scale of development could change the character of the Moosehead region forever. This is a turning point in the history of Maine’s North Woods, a time when real estate development value is trumping the traditional forest products and tourism economy.
The location of the proposed development also raises questions. Much of the proposed development will be on lakes, ponds and river frontage, miles from Greenville. Given that Plum Creek owns another 550,000 acres south and west of Greenville, it is unclear why the more remote areas were chosen for development instead of those areas closer to municipal services.
LURC law requires that any development of this scale be balanced by comparable conservation. Development is permanent. However, the vast majority of the proposed conservation is not permanent. The conservation proposed in this plan should be permanent.