Includes Moosehead Lake Forests Where Plum Creek Proposes Massive Development
Today, the Federal Register published a proposed rule by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that would protect Canada lynx and their habitat including more than 10,000 square miles of the Maine woods in a “critical habitat” zone, which would require separate review and stricter land use regulations.
The USFWS’ proposal now specifies “critical habitat areas” on the lands around Moosehead Lake where Plum Creek has proposed to develop more than 2,000 dwellings, five commercial districts and two large resorts. If the proposed rule is adopted, these areas may require “special management considerations or protection.”
“Plum Creek wants to build hundreds of houses on land that has been proposed as critical habitat for lynx, including the areas around Lily Bay and Long Pond,” said Cathy Johnson, North Woods Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Plum Creek’s own maps show that these areas have a high probability of lynx occurrences. This is yet one more piece of independent evidence that shows that Plum Creek should downsize its proposed development and move it to areas that are not being proposed to be designated critical habitat such as the 8,000 acres the company owns in Greenville.”
“It is great news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is again proposing protection for critical lynx habitat in Maine,” said Jym St. Pierre, Maine Director of RESTORE: The North Woods. “But this is still just a proposal and the proof will be what is actually adopted by the agency. We will watch closely to make sure the critical habitat proposal is adopted.”
Previously, the Maine forestlands were excluded from protection after former deputy assistant secretary Julie MacDonald met with landowners, including Plum Creek, who claimed the regulation was unnecessary.
Lynx are a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, which requires that critical habitat be designated for conservation of the species using the best available science.
If the rule is adopted, all federal agencies will be required to consult with USFWS about activities, such as development, that may adversely affect the species or designated habitat.