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Tom McCormick: Conservation groups wield too much powerBy BDN Staff
Monday, March 10, 2008 - Bangor Daily News
As a result of the Plum Creek hearings, what I see happening is that conservation groups have gained a lot of power with their total non-negotiable stand on North Woods development. In doing so, they have successfully created such a negative atmosphere for any future large landowner to put forth a large-scale land use plan that I could understand that owners would see small-scale fragmentation of their lands as the only option for economic stability. Of course, this would open up the opportunity for these conservation groups, with their large coffers, to purchase these land parcels and gain a further stronghold on the North Maine Woods for their primitive playground. I believe this has been their agenda from the start.
They intended to create such a hostile environment for any future land transactions that the only option a landowner would have is to try to sell their lands to them or the state. Knowing the state of Maine has minimal funds to purchase pubic lands, it puts the conservation groups in the driver’s seat in controlling the future of the North Maine Woods.
Unfortunately it appears that the Land Use Regulation Commission has totally bought in to this agenda and if the Comprehensive Land Use Plan is not changed from its present form, Maine’s historical open recreational access will be gone. Land transactions will come and go, but the unique factor of having large areas of open access to all forms of recreation is what makes Maine so desirable and what drives the economy of northern Maine.
LURC and the conservation groups have absolutely no regard for the economic future of northern Maine and they all should be held accountable for this disastrous attitude.
LURC needs to know that 400,000 acres of open-access land is what makes the Plum Creek plan so desirable, and if LURC cuts the plan so badly that Plum Creek walks away, LURC will scare away any future landowners from submitting large-scale plans.
LURC wanted a large-scale plan for this area as well as other large land ownerships in their 10.5 million acre domain. Why would any other landowner now put forth a plan that will run the gauntlet of ridicule to the extent we have seen from these so-called conservation groups?
The economic future of the North Woods will depend upon new large-scale conservation easements that will continue to guarantee open public access for recreation. How will this happen when future landowners will have to spend millions of dollars just to satisfy the agendas of these outside groups who feel they have the right to direct the future of land use on land they don’t even own? What even happened to landowner rights in Maine?
Tom McCormick lives in Greenville.