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PLUM CREEK Update, September 2009

On September 23, the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) unanimously voted yes to approve a plan that allows Plum Creek to rewrite state law and go forward with the largest development project of its kind in Maine history.

At the meeting where LURC voted for Plum Creek’s plan, six people were arrested for speaking out about the fact that LURC, which is supposed to serve the People of Maine, ignored the voices of thousands of Mainer’s who said “No” to the plan during the Public Hearing process.  Those arrested now face unusual bail conditions, including requirement to submit to search of their bodies, vehicles, and homes at any time for any reason, and a curfew, requiring them to be home between 9pm and 5am. Many have observed that these bail conditions seem designed to send a warning to future protestors.

Is this the future trend for development in Maine’s unorganized territories?

Make Your Voice Heard!

The Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) has scheduled three public hearings on the revisions to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) . This plan is the primary guide for the future development of  Maine’s North woods. It decides whether land in Maine is managed and protected in the interest of its people or for the interests of big business. Come out to one of these three hearings next week to have your voice heard.

Monday September 28th at the Senator Inn on 284 Western Ave in Augusta

From 1:00pm-4:30pm and 6:00pm-10:00pm

Tuesday September 29th at the Ramada Inn on 357 Odlin Rd in Bangor

From 1:00pm-4:30pm and 6:00pm-10:00pm

Wednesday September 30th at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center on 116 Main St in Presque Isle

From 1:00pm-4:30pm and 6:00pm-10:00pm

If you cannot make it to one of these hearings, you can also send in written comments up until October 21st

Written comments should be sent to Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, 22 State House Station, Augusta, Maine, 04333-0022. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail to LURC@maine.gov. When submitting written comments by email, please indicate CLUP Comments in the subject line. For more information go to: www.maine.gov/doc/lurc/reference/cluprev/PublicHearings/september_public_hearings.html

For more information about how you can help save the Maine North woods

email: nfnmaine@gmail.com

More at:

http://www.wlbz2.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=109391&catid=3

http://www.sunjournal.com/node/283570

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Facts About the Conservation Easement Partnership Between

Plum Creek and The Nature Conservancy

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Plum Creek is the largest private landowner in the country.

The Nature Conservancy is the richest environmental nonprofit organization in the world.

Plum Creek is a major donor to The Nature Conservancy, and is a member of the TNC’s International Leadership Council.

Learn more at http://www.nature.org/joinanddonate/corporatepartnerships/leadership/

These two Goliaths are partnering promote a Conservation Easement and one of the biggest land development plans in Maine history.

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In its current form, the Conservation Easement would allow the following activities:

  • Septic Sludge Spreading – Up to 100 acres at a time in active use.
  • Road Building
  • Cell Phone Tower Construction
  • Construction of High Voltage Power Lines and Power Generators.
  • Rock, Sand, and Gravel Mining
  • Unsustainable forestry practices in the form of major clearcuts, pesticide and herbicide spraying, and the possible use of genetically modified trees.

All of these forestry practices are allowed by SFI Inc, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification program that certifies Plum Creek’s forestry practices as sustainable. SFI was created by major corporations involved with forestry.

The Chair of  SFI  is Plum Creek President Rick Holley.

There is no effective Public oversight of SFI and it is unheard of for a company to lose its certification as a result of violations and unsustainable forestry practices.

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Plum Creek’s Plan

Plum Creek’s plan, which would involve the construction of resorts, a golf course, and hundreds of high-end houses around Moosehead Lake, has met serious Public resistance from surrounding communities.

In response to concerns about negative impacts on the land and local communities, Plum Creek entered into a partnership with The Nature Conservancy to create a Conservation Easement that they claim will balance out the negative impacts of the development.

The Conservation Easement between Plum Creek and The Nature Conservancy is supposed to protect 266,000 acres of land in Maine’s Somerset and Piscataquis Counties.

The stated purpose of the Conservation Easement is to provide “significant public benefit” by preventing habitat fragmentation, protecting fisheries, ensuring sustainable forestry, and sustaining the local economy.

The land contained in the conservation easement is a significant piece of one of the largest areas of contiguous natural forest and fresh water reserves remaining east of the Mississippi.

Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine, surrounded by many connected waterbodies and wetlands, and it is the main source of the Kennebec River.

The region is home to a wide range of plants and animals representing much of the biodiversity of Maine, including native Brook Trout and the Canada Lynx.

Plum Creek’s History

When Plum Creek purchased almost a million acres of land in Maine in 1998, there was a good deal of concern about the corporation’s history of destructive land use in Montana and Washington.

The corporation had gained a reputation of doing liquidation forestry, converting wildlands to resorts, and not always being up front about its plans and activities.

Republican Representative Rod Chandler of Washington  commented on Plum Creek’s land use in a 1990 Wall Street Journal article about the company, saying,”Within the industry, they’re considered the Darth Vader of the state of Washington. And I think they’ve earned it.”

When Plum Creek first came to Maine, company representatives claimed they only wanted to continue forestry operations, and had no plans for residential or resort developments. In 2005, Plum Creek announced plans for the largest residential and resort development in the region’s history.

In 2006, Plum Creek received the largest fine in Maine history under the Maine Forest Practices Act for  major destruction of deer wintering yards and damage to water bodies in the Moosehead region.

The fine apparently did not deter the corporation. In fall 2008, Plum Creek cuts resulted in massive erosion and a mud slide in Kibby Township. Only months later, after local people brought their concerns to the media,  Plum Creek admitted to “mistakenly” cutting more deer wintering yards in Indian Stream Township, land which could be part of the Conservation Easement.
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Details of the Conservation Easement

The Conservation Easement, in its current form, does little if anything to prevent Plum Creek from continuing unsustainable cutting practices and resource extraction activities that have so far resulted in damage to fisheries, habitat fragmentation, and the destruction of deer wintering yards.
According to The Nature Conservancy, the conservation easement is intended to provide a better opportunity for wildlife to adapt to long term climate changes and resist other threats to their continued health, to ensure protection of some of Maine’s most pristine aquatic habitats, and to ensure sustainable forestry practices on the “working lands” in order to support the local economy.
Funding for the Conservation Easement could come, in part, from the Land For Maine’s Future program.
The Nature Conservancy has been a major recipient of money from this tax-payer funded bond, and in fact played a central role in the creation of the program when Nature Conservancy board member Angus King was governor.
On March 4, Plum Creek released new wording of its Conservation Easement with The Nature Conservancy.

The terms of the Conservation Easement are available on the LURC website at http://www.maine.gov/doc/lurc/review/PlumCreek/LURC_ConceptPlanDraft_2009-03-02/

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Public Participation

The stated purpose of the Conservation Easement is to provide significant Public benefit. Even though thousands of people spoke out against Plum Creek’s plans,the unelected commissioners of LURC (the Land Use Regulation Commission  Commission) gave initial approval to the plan this last summer.

The fact that hundreds of thousands of acres of land were supposed to be protected by the Conservation Easement was a major factor in that intital approval.

Final approval hinges in large part on the Conservation Easement.

Contact LURC

LURC will be accepting Public Comment on the plan through Friday, April 3 at 4pm.

Members of the Public are encouraged to contact LURC at:  LURC@maine.gov or LURC,  22 State House Station, Augusta, Maine, 04333.

More information is available online at www.maine.gov/doc/lurc

Contact The Nature Conservancy

People can also contact The Nature Conservancy to remind them that the need for environmental justice and the health of local communities is being threatened by Plum Creek.

As the richest environmental nonprofit organization in the world, The Nature Conservancy has the ability to take needed action to ensure that environmental justice and community health are protected.

The Nature Conservancy is risking its reputation if it promotes unsustainable forestry, mining, road building, septic sludge spreading, and habitat destruction as Conservation.

People can contact the Maine chapter of The Nature Conservancy by writing them at 14 Maine Street, Suite 401, Brunswick, Maine 04011, emailing naturemaine@tnc.org , calling  207-729-5181 or faxing 207-729-4118

More info at http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/maine/council/

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