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Downeast Maine

Property Rights
Rural Independence

Summary and Latest National Heritage Area Threat

Defense of property rights and rural independence is a huge issue in Maine. Well-heeled politically connected preservationist activists and government agencies have for decades been secretly collaborating, openly campaigning, and lobbying for takeover of private property throughout rural northern New England. They want to eliminate the natural resources industries and private homes, which they hate, across enormous areas they want controlled in a primitive state.

For decades these organizaions have schemed and pushed for land use prohibitions and taking private property by Federal and State agencies, including an attempt to take most of our county for a National Park following secret planning between the National Park Service and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust in the 1980s. The pressure groups on a national scale arrogantly presume a right to exploit government power, any way they can get it, to take or control private property for their relentlessly pursued, obsessive preservationist goals. Other people's property and civil rights are regarded as only a temporary political impediment to their supposedly superior control.

The plans call for private homes to be restricted to approved “settlement clusters” and otherwise prohibited or removed from private land branded as “nationally significant” for “conservation”. Wealthy land trusts continue to buy up land, removing it from the economy and the tax base, and surround private property owners they want to eliminate as undesirable inholders claimed to “threaten” “landscape level conservation”.

The NPS Northeast Planning Chief summed up the agency's long term plans to a sympathetic pressure group leadership conference in Massachusetts in 1990:

“Some of the 32 million acres of the northern forest lands [ME,NH,VT,NY], some of that area, would make lovely parks in case any of you are involved in that. [Audience laughter] Just a pitch — We anticipate growing both in the number of parks, the number of acres, but more importantly we anticipate in growing in partnership with all of you, with the Forest Service, with other -- EPA and other Federal agencies as well as states and localities and counties in New England to the point where we become an intricate fabric of people who are concerned with the environment and more importantly about developing and maintaining at adequate levels a complete, absolute network of parks.“

More background summary is below, but first the latest threat:

Aug 16, 2022:

National Heritage Area Threat

Click here for Legislative Outline Summary

The latest is Federal legislation, Angus King's US Senate bill S3932, for a “Downeast Maine National Heritage Area” across two counties, to be run by a network of unelected, unaccountable non-profit organizations installed and subsidized by the Federal governement in a politically privileged position: A quasi-government “overlay” organization self-appointed as spokesman for the region, acting subject to National Park Service approval in planning “protection of resources”, and dispensing government money among themselves.

The ensuing “protection” by government agencies (described below from the legislation) means controlling and taking over private property in "cooperation" with the non-profits' plans. The plan is required to include an expanded role for Federal acquisition, which leads to eminent domain against the unwilling. All in the name of “local” initiative.

The NHA promotion is cruelly deceptive, promising innocuous free money for tourism and local organizations while pandering to “local traditions” and hiding the role of government agencies. The Federal government does not pour riches into a remote rural corner of the country to win the pork lottery. Political investment costs are expected to quell opposition and buy a political constituency, resulting in control. Chains are attached, and they have a heavy history, particularly the National Park Service and its pressure groups like the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. National Park Service “Resource Protection” across a region in the name of what it calls a “Nationally Important Landscape” does not mean helping a local garden club or a local boat ramp. They want control over the land.

The sweeping Federal legislation S3932 (§ 5 & 6) establishes and subsidizes comprehensive central planning for greenlining “resource protection”. The broad “protection” language has no limitations and ambiguously applies to an undisclosed “inventory” regardless of property ownership. It extends across all of Washington and Hancock counties — the entire rural region from Acadia National Park to the Canadian border.

National Park Service promoters learned long ago that publicly acknowledging the intent to take over private property and revealing the specific targets creates resistance from the people targeted -- as it has in Washington County since the NPS initiative publicly began in 1988. The slick marketing promotions now hide and downplay the goals and coercive means for land “protection” behind marketing slogans for the “economy”, and keep the targets vague until it is too late for property owners to find out and object. But the ultimate means of “protection” taking control of private property have not changed.

This emphasis on open–ended, sweeping “protection” across a rural area in S3932 is not the kind of Heritage Area in more populated, wealthier areas claimed by its proponents to show that the scheme is harmless to the property owners. The meaning and consequences of a Downeast National Heritage Area are the provisions in the specific enabling legislation and the political forces driving and implementing them — now and in the future inevitable growth of scope and power.

The S3932 Plan is broadly required to include expanded “recommendations for the role of the National Park Service” in addition to other “Federal, State and local programs” for “protection”. Priority is required to promote and implement “actions, goals, and strategies” in the management plan, “including assisting units of government and others” to “protect resource values in the Heritage Area” targeted by an “inventory”.

The “inventory” is broadly required to encomposs all “natural, historic, cultural, educational, scenic, and recreational resources”. The pressure groups like Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which is deep into this planning, have known for years what they want but none of the targeted land inventory has been publicly revealed in the legislation.

Particularly ominous is the spectre of National Park acquisition, which generally includes eminent domain to take private property, with or without prior reassurances. S3932 planning politically accelerates becoming a unit of the National Park System, in accordance with the agenda of the NPS insiders in the planning. The planning pushes property owners into the nasty National Park politics of Washington DC that steamrolls people in the way. Angus King is chairman of the Senate National Parks subcommittee and said he is an “activist chairman” who wants to establish more National Parks.

Property rights are claimed to not be lost (S3932 §8), a typical reassuring-sounding insertion now generally included in NHA legislation. In S3932 with its broad emphasis on open-ended “resources protection” across a rural area, the assertion is especially meaningless: property rights are interpreted as meaning only what is left after restrictions and acquisition under present and future law, including eminent domain. The National Park Service denies that it's condemnation violates property rights because it has legal authority.

The Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC), appointed by S3932 as the paid “coordinator” of the network of non-profit planners and which has been fronting the lobbying for the campaign, has been blithely assuring that it is not into taking land and homes, but government agencies do and SCEC has no authority to guarantee what the agencies or politicians won't do.

You don't have to “participate” by applying to the non-profits for a “grant” or open your remaining private property to the public, but you can't decline to “participate” in the “resources inventory” or become an inholder in a government area, or not participate in the results from restrictive laws or Federal acquisition or higher property taxes, or refuse to be in the NHA boundary at all.

The loss of independence and property rights becomes harder to live under and resist the more entrenched the political park regime becomes. The Heritage Area legislation is about expanding power for land control and acquisition in accordance with agency activists and their pressure groups; it is not someone's claimed benign intentions for the “economy” or free money, the lobbyists' glossy marketing pitch and romanticized imagery, utopian wishful thinking that nothing too bad will happen, or that surely they wouldn't really do what is specified in thelegislation.

S3932 specifies that the meaning of assessing “economic viability” of the region is restricted to within “the goals of the management plan”, which emphasizes that the entire area is to be regarded as a greenline park as the presumed standard for all activity.

The unelected non-profits are authorized $10 million in Federal matching funds spent over 10–15 years, before increases and renewal, which does not include Federal and other outside mass acquisition funding. Money that goes to local organizations called “cultural” buys a political constituency for the National Park Service.

SCEC has been paid to be the front for the NPS insider lobbyists, who produced an expensive glossy marketing promotion over 200 pages long that is deceptively called a “feasibility study”.

The marketing is no study at all; it was professionally produced to emotionally promote and build political momentum for the kind of Federal legislation the NPS lobbyists knew in advance they want, while not revealing the powers to be granted to them under Federal law.

Almost no one among ordinary people knows anything about this political initiative, let alone the legislation, but it is claimed to have widespread public support by the lobbyists, who promise free money and reveal nothing else. SCEC will not reveal the financial amounts or sources of “anonymous” funding from those behind the lobbying, or the identity of the NPS insiders doing the lobbying and planning, referring to them only as unnamed “partners”. The records are not open to the public and they are immune from Freedom of Access laws that apply to government agencies. The unelected SCEC is accountable to no one but stands to obtain enormous power and money to pretend that its partner the National Park Service is coming by local invitation.

Land Trust Coup

The emphasis in the legislation is open-ended “protection”, put there by NPS insiders drafting the bill. And the scheme puts the lobbyists themselves — under Federal law with Federal and other outside funding — in charge of comprehensive planning and promotion of what they decide is “protection” of private property across an entire region. This setup reflects Maine Coast Heritage Trust's earlier insider planning with the National Park Service beginning years ago. It gives the non-profit political interests further undue influence over government control with their own officially sanctioned quasi-governmental organization.

In a 1987 MCHT “reference” report requested by the National Park Service MCHT pushed to Federalize the whole Quoddy region as a National Natural Landmark in what MCHT called a “countryside [greenline] protection agenda” (copied from Europe), in which state and regional planning should prohibit development that is not in designated “clusters” reinforcing “traditional settlement patterns”. Such strict preservation restricting where people can and cannot live and work was claimed to “provide economic opportunities for residents.”

MCHT, the Nature Conservancy, and NPS were already in the process of secretly designating the entire Cutler to Lubec Coast, plus Great Wass at Beals, as National Natural Landmarks. MCHT had already begun exploiting the expected designation to try to stop personal homes from being built on private property the land trusts and NPS want. They were caught, had no popular local support for the scheme or for the following attempt to take over most of the county as a new National Park, and were stopped, but only after years of an intense struggle.

Decrying “a shortage of the right people to serve on planning boards and to attend town meetings”, Maine Coast Heritage Trust told NPS “new institutions are needed at the regional, state, and local level”. “Recognizing the institutional barriers to the planning processes” it emphasized “the need to empower local groups so that they can play an effective role in local decision-making; and [to] provide state support... which could facilitate the implementation of their recommendations”.

The Trust, along with unidentified National Park Service insiders at Bar Harbor, including the activist College of the Atlantic, is on the National Heritage Area “working group” arranging the plans and legislation to put the non-profits, including itself, in charge of “official” “protection” planning and promotion.

This is just as they planned with the National Park Service years ago (and if they hadn't planned for planting themselves with more local influence they would be doing it now anyway because that is the way they think and manipulate politically). The National Heritage Areas system they are putting in place is devised to grow in power and influence for increasing park restrictions over time, including Federal acquisition, to take over private property.

Background Summary

For decades the preservationists, nationally and in Maine, have wanted the kind of Federal ownership and control over rural northern New England that they have in much of Alaska, which they treat as more of a Federal colony than a state, and in Greenlined areas such as the Columbia Gorge (OR & WA), the Adirondacks (NY), and the Pine Barrens (NJ) where the people have been stripped of their property rights.

A Greenline Park is a strictly controlled area in which those inside do not have the same rights as those outside. Land that is not acquired and owned by government or trusts is subject to strict land use restrictions. Acquisition is under threat of condemnation, economic strangulation, and/or land use restrictions preventing owners' use of private property. Some areas of private property are more serverely restricted than others, with residences confined to approved settlement clusters.

Greenline schemes are typically pursued following failed attempts at a new National Park complete takeover. They are politically promoted — in utopian terms invoking emotional scenic imagery — as a “lived in landscape” as a benign alternative to mass population displacement. The pitch suppresses discussion of the means employed to impose and enforce “scenic and recreational resource protection” referred to in vague terms, and does not reveal how far they will go over time.

The preservationist lobby has for over 35 years focused on the Downeast coast of Maine as one of its high priority targets for several overlapping schemes. The battle began for us in March 1988 when the Boston Sunday Globe announced national plans to take over most of our county in eastern Maine for a new National Park, which if not stopped in time would have resulted in massive eminent domain takings of private property for population removal.

A simultaneous plan, already moving ahead in Washington DC under a Federal US Forest Service “study” implemented as planning and campaign promotion, was to “Greenline” private property across four states of northern New England to control whatever private land would be left outside several National Parks, leaving the remaining owners with little more than the deed and the tax bill in the most stringently controled areas.

The eastern portion extended from Acadia National Park to the Canadian border. Unknown to the public even years later was secret planning by the National Park Service and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust to Greenline our entire Quoddy region as a “nationally significant” National Natural Landmark to ‘justify’ Greenline controls and property taking, restricting homes to within approved “settlement clusters”. Two “smaller” “National Natural Landmark” for four coastal towns were already being secretly arranged to ban private homes on the coast.

When the early National Park Service schemes were seen to be failing, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and other pressure group activists in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, calling themselves the “Maine Welands Alliance”, expanded the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge to take private property, additionally attempting but failing to extend this to take over 20 miles of coast in three towns.

Stopping or minimizing these arrogant Federal political initiatives took enormous effort, tearing people's lives apart for years at a time. Some lost their property.

In addition to the attempts at Federal takeovers the same pressure groups seek to impose state land use prohibitions. Two notable impositions have been Resource Protection Zones as part of the state's shoreland zoning, and the Bird Habitat overlay concentrating on Washington County. The same pattern is followed in which the pressure groups with insider connections slip through regulations in secret that no one else knows about, or knows the full meaning of, until it is too late.

As we quickly learned, we are not alone. The political pressure groups have similar designs on rural areas in the nation, as illustrated by the current national “30x30” campaign to take over and lock up 30% of the land and water from human use by 2030 – as an interim step towards “50x50”, also called “Half Earth”. Rural areas are to bear the brunt of it.

These property rights web pages contains articles and documents on property rights in Downeast Maine, but also pertaining to nationwide problems because they deal with the same national political lobby and Federal agencies, and because the tactics used by agencies and pressure groups to take private property around the country are the same.

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Last Update: 09/07/22