Plum Creek, Florida, Turtles and a Lynx

Posted: 30/12/2007 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
With all of the commotion surrounding Plum Creek Timber’s plans to redevelop the area around Greenville into a rich boy’s hide away retreat for the wealthy from away, we deserve to see how some of their other projects are developing. A recent article from Florida relates that Plum Creek obtained preliminary approval to develop 2,076 acres of wetland in Gadsden County. The plan is to eventually accommodate up to 177 homes. That sounds like a lot of area at first, and it relates to approximately 11 acres per home. Not bad for rural property.

The formula begins to get a little sketchy though. The article claims that 1,311 acres along the Ochlockonee River will be preserved. Hm mm, let me see, that leaves only 765 acres for housing, according to the plan. Let’s do the math, shall we? At only 765 acres for 177 homes that leaves about 4 1/3 acres per home. Sounds like it’s getting closer to a suburban setting to me. And 177 homes means 177 families, and how many children are these families going to have? What will the eventual cost be to the taxpayers of Gadsden County? Even more interesting, building requirements only allow one home per ten acre lot in the county. I tried to turn that issue into a math problem, but I’m at a loss as to how that’s going to happen.

But even more disturbing to me will be the plight of a little critter called the Gopher Tortoise. According to the article, Gadsden’s Growth Management Director, Bill McCord, recommended the council deny the request based on the presence of these turtles. According to McCord, there are 335 Gopher Tortoise burrows on the land to be developed. The tortoises are listed as a threatened species, and are said by the Gopher Tortoise Council to be on the decline. (http://www.gophertortoisecouncil.org/) Many of these burrows appear to be visibly active, says McCord.

The article goes on to say that Linda Loomis Shelley, an attorney representing Plum Creek in the applications process, to say that “these wetlands will be protected forever.” Even though Plum Creek has received approval from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for a plan to relocate the tortoises, Shelley stated that “Plum Creek Timber Co. has committed to moving tortoises only when they are in the way of roadways and other necessary drainage sites.”

So let me see. Plum Creek is going to cram 177 homes onto some protected wetlands, which are going to require plenty of roads and drainage, and cart off some threatened wildlife if they feel they are in the way. Did I get that right, folks? No matter what they do, it seems to me that this tortoise is going to have their numbers reduced. Relocating will be traumatic, sure to kill at least a small percentage of them. And what about the roadways. I’ve seen turtles here in Maine on the highway. They don’t run away when a car comes careening around the corner.

In addition to offing a threatened species, Plum Creek bought, oh, excuse me, that was brought, a specialist named Carl Salafrio, president of Environmental Consulting and Design in Gainsville Fla. to the meeting. Seems they are going to try a ‘demonstration’ of the newest septic disposal equipment, claimed to be less stressful on the environment.

So here we have one of the largest landowners in the country, experimenting with sewage in what is a Federally protected waterway, teeming with a threatened species, the Gopher Tortoise, and planning to load into what could be called a fragile environment, up 177 homes. Sounds like another one of their environmental disaster, much like the ones they brokered out west. Oh, yo haven’t heard about the Mile High Club yet? Check back with me next week on that one folks.

Shelley was quoted in the article as saying “By providing the development of rural character and by allowing positive economic growth, it means there will be an excellent recognition for this concept for sensitive properties in a comprehensive plan.” (what?) She went on to say “Plum Creek looks on this project as one that will enhance Gadsden County and bring national acclaim to the area.” Wonder if she’s coming to Maine?

It sounds a lot like the turmoil they’ve stirred up here in Maine. They are claiming to want to improve the economic outlook of the area, but at what cost. I don’t generally hold with a lot of liberal whining, but I do care greatly about the environment and Maine’s wildlife. One of the issues that are at the forefront in Maine today is the reintroduction of several species. The Gray Wolf is one that is hotly debated, as well as the Canada Lynx. I don’t believe Maine will ever be able to support any meaningful wolf populations, but the Canada Lynx has an excellent chance of being reestablished here. With increasing evidence of their populations in far northern Maine, and possibly western Maine, it’s only a matter of time before they began to be seen around Moosehead Lake. What will the increased population in human terms mean to the environment to the Lynx?

The problem I see is that large developers like Plum Creek rarely take responsibility for their actions. The come and go, and leave the mess for other people to clean up. We’ve done a pretty poor job of maintaining the wilderness here in Maine, mostly so people from away can increase their bank accounts, while we get stuck cleaning up after them. The Moosehead area is prime habitat for wild cat species like the Lynx and Bobcat, as well as other species. What do you suppose will be the ultimate outcome of this development?

With hundreds of new homes and people from out of state coming to the area, traffic will be increasing, as well the resulting pollution, both from auto emissions and the process of life for humans. Next week I’m going to be posting some information about the fallout from some of Plum Creeks western developments. While Plum Creek themselves have little they can be blamed for, the devastation caused by various contractors and developers connected to the Plum Creek projects definitely bode ill for the state of Maine.

If you really think Greenville will remain wild and unspoiled, take a look at what they did to the mountains across from the Mt. Rainier National Park.

Greenville, here we come…..And by the way, I understand that Plum Creek recently purchased some other property for development in Florida. I’m not sure of the details just yet, but I’ve been told the land was immediately placed off limits to hunters and other sportsman. So they’re gonna save the woods for Mainers? There is a lot of digging here folks, and so far, I haven’t turned up a lot that’s really good about these people from away. The more I see, the less I like them.

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