by Cathy Johnson, North Woods Project Director and Senior Staff Attorney
Good morning Sen. Goodall, Rep. Duchesne and members of the Committee. My name is Cathy Johnson. I am the North Woods Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I am here today on behalf of the 12,000 members and supporters of the Natural Resources Council of Maine in support of L.D. 1538.
NRCM is a strong advocate of closing these loopholes, particularly the ones related to forest management roads and development activities. Exemptions from various permitting requirements for forest management roads make sense in certain circumstances because roads used primarily for forest management activities do not have the amount of traffic, and therefore have a lesser likelihood of causing environmental damage, than more heavily used roads.
Unfortunately some developers use this exemption for forest management roads in order to build roads to access a subdivision. These forest management roads may not be built in appropriate areas or may not be built to adequate standards to handle the greater use generated by a subdivision. This can result in unnecessary adverse impacts to the environment.
The new language proposed in Sec. 2 of the bill clarifies that where the developer intends a change of use at the time of harvest, he or she cannot use the forest management exemption. We strongly support that proposed new language.
However, Sec. 2 also proposes deleting the words “and is not used primarily to access development.” We do not support that deletion and propose a friendly amendment that the existing language be retained. Deleting that language could create a loophole bigger than the one the bill is trying to limit, which would be very unfortunate. Retaining the exiting language essentially retains the law as is and is completely consistent with the proposed new language.
Thank you very much for your attention.