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Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel Kennebec JournalMorning Sentinel
What's best for those who own, use wild Maine woods?
George Smith Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 05/14/2008

We are blessed to use the private lands in the 10 million acres of unorganized territories, often without knowing who owns the woods we enjoy. It is important to understand that our use of those lands is a privilege, not a right.

On Monday, Maine's Land Use Regulation Commission, or LURC, wrapped up public workshops on a new comprehensive land use plan for the unorganized territories. The proposed plan has annoyed private landowners and could significantly alter the ways we recreate in the north woods.

Last month I shared the thoughts of my employer, the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, about the plan at a LURC meeting. Here is some of what I said.

The plan should focus on what is best for the landowners, the economy and the people who recreate on these lands. Some of the proposed language is threatening to landowners, counter to the area's economic needs and detrimental to those who currently recreate there or who want to recreate there in the future. The plan ought to present a vision and plan for a better economy for these lands, their owners and the people who live, work and recreate there.

The Brookings Institution reported that from 1970 to 2004, several rural Maine counties experienced inflation-adjusted income growth of less than one percent. Average annual wages in Aroostook and Washington counties actually decreased. Aroostook lost 3,000 jobs.

A lot of land in these counties is governed by LURC. So LURC must be part of their economic solution. The new plan can't be built without recognizing these economic realities and addressing these serious economic problems.

If LURC does not do this, it will fail our state and its people.

The things that are working well for the economy of this area are forestry, snowmobiling and bear hunting. The thing that is not working well is primitive wilderness backcountry -- a focus of the new plan. Visitor numbers in backcountry areas have plummeted. Tenting is out. Luxury is in.

In fact, those who advocate for wilderness don't want more people there. Gil Gilpatrick, an ardent environmentalist and Allagash advocate and guide, is a member of one of the Allagash Advisory Council's technical committees.

In the April edition of Northwoods Sporting Journal, here's what Gil wrote about a budget problem of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway: "One way to reduce the per person cost, of course, is to increase the number of people using the Waterway. In fact, this is the solution that was suggested to me at the time of my appointment. This solution never did sit well with me. Why would you want to increase the number of people in an area where you wanted to maintain the maximum wilderness experience?"

Why, indeed!

Unfortunately, bear hunting and snowmobiling are the very activities that would be eliminated in remote wilderness that some groups advocate for Maine -- and are in fact being eliminated even in accessible areas right now, including ecoreserves. The Appalachian Mountain Club shut down 30 miles of snowmobile trails and banned bear baiting soon after taking ownership of lands in the Katahdin Ironworks area.

You can't turn back the clock on technology, nor should LURC try to do so in the plan. Our ancestors lived in caves, but none of us want to go back to those days. Many people want flush toilets, hot showers, laptops and cell phones, even at camp. Some people even like their big TVs so they can watch the Red Sox. They should not be denied.

Too much of what is being debated is simply one person imposing his or her values and interests over someone else's values and interests.

Protect the resources, sure, but don't tell us how and where we can use them and please, make sure those who own the land are able to achieve their goals for the land they own.

The draft plan, if presented by any planning board to any town meeting, would be soundly rejected. And the principle reason for that is the plan's failure to serve the landowners.

For the second time in 15 years, I am involved in creating a comprehensive plan for my town of Mount Vernon. Last year we hosted a very successful meeting with all of the town's large landowners. We intend to make sure our plan acknowledges their hopes and dreams for the land that they own and makes it possible for them to achieve those hopes and dreams. LURC should do no less.

George Smith is executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine. He lives in Mount Vernon and can be reached at george@samcef.org.

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We are blessed to use the private lands in the 10 million acres of unorganized territories, often without knowing...
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Welcome to onlinesentinel.com's reader comments forum, which is offered as a "public square" for our audience. We view this space as our readers' section of the Web site, separate from our journalistic offerings. We hope you will use the forum to advance public dialogue and community discourse. As such, we ask that participants refrain from personal attacks and offensive comments. If you believe a comment is inappropriate or offensive, you can bring it to our attention by clicking on the 'report abuse' link by the comment. It will be reviewed by online staff. Please understand that 1) a comment is not "inappropriate" solely because you disagree with its author; and 2) there may be a delay while the comment is being reviewed. Please review our Reader Comment Guidelines.


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BRIAN of Winslow, ME
May 15, 2008 9:35 AM
jm....evidently you have no idea how much money motorsports bring to the economy in the northern half of the state, do you?

While gas is expensive, there is no shortage. While I may conserve in the interest of my own funds, myself and many other enthusiasts will continue to enjoy life as we see fit.

If you can't afford the gas to enjoy snowmobiling,ATV's or boating then yes, you should refrain from enjoying those activities.

I get the feeling that if gas was $0.50 a gallon you'd still want people to do activities that only you approve of.report abuse
jm of Augusta, ME
May 14, 2008 7:52 PM
Brian:

You willfully ignore that, of all the outdoor activities you mention, snowmobiling, ATVing and jet-skiing all require people to burn up gasoline in order to "have fun." That's ONE reason why prices of gasoline are so high. News flash: CONSERVATION is the order of the day!

And we wonder why there's such a problem with obesity....report abuse
Punky Hollow of Poverty Hollow, ME
May 14, 2008 12:28 PM
It is worse than you think. The Sportsmans alliance pushed hunting and fishing harassment legislation that is continually being changed to suit their needs. In many states they are now pushing to outlaw other users from even using the woods during hours of hunting etc. A hunter can now shoot you and claim it was only the excitement of the hunt and your dead. But if you even ask that hunter to point his gun other than in your face a warden can chage you with harassing a hunter. Hunters are using this to intimidate and cause fear to landowners across this country. You complain and the warden sides with the hunter. So you are either dead or in jail. Will Geoge have his way...you bet he will because those additional harassment laws are upgraded at the whim of hunters and zip right though legislation buried in rule changes.report abuse
BRIAN of Winslow, ME
May 14, 2008 11:45 AM
Doug Watts are you one of those guys that wants people to only enjoy the outdoors under your terms. People should only do things you enjoy? That's not very a liberal train of thought....well maybe it is.

Whether it be canoeing or jet-skiing. Whether it be hunting or wildlife photography. Whether it be snowmobiling or xc skiing. Whether it be ATVing or hiking. Whether it be tenting or staying in a condo.

All are fun activities and it may be any one of them that sparks a kids interest in the outdoors,which will lead to a branching interest into some of the others and maybe all of them as the years go on, like myself. I see the value in all the mentioned activities.

George Smith realizes this and it's those that want to set limits on ones legal interests that are doing damage.report abuse

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Hello, Erich    Edit Settings | Log Out | Help
Morning Sentinel
Comments about: What's best for those who own, use wild Maine woods?
We are blessed to use the private lands in the 10 million acres of unorganized territories, often without knowing...
[ back to story ]
Bookmark & share: digg del.icio.us Reddit

Welcome to onlinesentinel.com's reader comments forum, which is offered as a "public square" for our audience. We view this space as our readers' section of the Web site, separate from our journalistic offerings. We hope you will use the forum to advance public dialogue and community discourse. As such, we ask that participants refrain from personal attacks and offensive comments. If you believe a comment is inappropriate or offensive, you can bring it to our attention by clicking on the 'report abuse' link by the comment. It will be reviewed by online staff. Please understand that 1) a comment is not "inappropriate" solely because you disagree with its author; and 2) there may be a delay while the comment is being reviewed. Please review our Reader Comment Guidelines.


Reader comments

Sort by: Oldest first | Newest First

1-6 of 6 comments:

BRIAN of Winslow, ME
May 15, 2008 9:35 AM
jm....evidently you have no idea how much money motorsports bring to the economy in the northern half of the state, do you?

While gas is expensive, there is no shortage. While I may conserve in the interest of my own funds, myself and many other enthusiasts will continue to enjoy life as we see fit.

If you can't afford the gas to enjoy snowmobiling,ATV's or boating then yes, you should refrain from enjoying those activities.

I get the feeling that if gas was $0.50 a gallon you'd still want people to do activities that only you approve of.report abuse
jm of Augusta, ME
May 14, 2008 7:52 PM
Brian:

You willfully ignore that, of all the outdoor activities you mention, snowmobiling, ATVing and jet-skiing all require people to burn up gasoline in order to "have fun." That's ONE reason why prices of gasoline are so high. News flash: CONSERVATION is the order of the day!

And we wonder why there's such a problem with obesity....report abuse
Punky Hollow of Poverty Hollow, ME
May 14, 2008 12:28 PM
It is worse than you think. The Sportsmans alliance pushed hunting and fishing harassment legislation that is continually being changed to suit their needs. In many states they are now pushing to outlaw other users from even using the woods during hours of hunting etc. A hunter can now shoot you and claim it was only the excitement of the hunt and your dead. But if you even ask that hunter to point his gun other than in your face a warden can chage you with harassing a hunter. Hunters are using this to intimidate and cause fear to landowners across this country. You complain and the warden sides with the hunter. So you are either dead or in jail. Will Geoge have his way...you bet he will because those additional harassment laws are upgraded at the whim of hunters and zip right though legislation buried in rule changes.report abuse
BRIAN of Winslow, ME
May 14, 2008 11:45 AM
Doug Watts are you one of those guys that wants people to only enjoy the outdoors under your terms. People should only do things you enjoy? That's not very a liberal train of thought....well maybe it is.

Whether it be canoeing or jet-skiing. Whether it be hunting or wildlife photography. Whether it be snowmobiling or xc skiing. Whether it be ATVing or hiking. Whether it be tenting or staying in a condo.

All are fun activities and it may be any one of them that sparks a kids interest in the outdoors,which will lead to a branching interest into some of the others and maybe all of them as the years go on, like myself. I see the value in all the mentioned activities.

George Smith realizes this and it's those that want to set limits on ones legal interests that are doing damage.report abuse
ev of Trescott, ME
May 14, 2008 10:45 AM
George Smith is to be commended for recognizing that the land the condescending elitist destroy-the-economy wilderness fanatics want to take over is someone else's private property and that LURC had better start respecting that.report abuse
Douglas Watts of Augusta, ME
May 14, 2008 4:45 AM
"The things that are working well for the economy of this area are forestry, snowmobiling and bear hunting. The thing that is not working well is primitive wilderness backcountry -- a focus of the new plan. Visitor numbers in backcountry areas have plummeted. Tenting is out. Luxury is in."
---

This is all your fault, George. You are the executive director of the Sportsmans Alliance of Maine.You have spent the last decade sending the message to Maine's youth and their parents that they cannot enjoy the outdoors unless they are sitting on a motorized ATV, snowmobile or 4x4; and that people who hike or canoe or enjoy nature with a camera are not 'real Mainers' ...

Your line is very old and very worn. It is as old as your "wolves are evil killers' line. You are not helping the youth of Maine enjoy the outdoors. You are hurting them. And their outdoors.

George, please stop this cynical, destructive, childish charade.

Thanks.

Doug Wattsreport abuse
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Erich Veyhl of Trescott, ME
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