There is plenty to think about in this issue, and not just from a simple business point of view, either. The future of not only Maine’s future in terms of economy and environment, but other states as well depend upon the success or failure of this effort by the big lumber REIT’s and TNC and their effort to lock up the Nations wilderness areas.
On the one hand, Environmentalists are all over this bogus global warming catastrophe the UN invented, but in the process, they have forgotten the simple act of habitat preservation and conserving our environment. And in doing so, have supported the potential of eventual destruction of much of Maine’s habitat areas, not just in Greeneville, but across the state. Huh? What did I say?
That’s right, by not focusing on the core issues of fact based science on environmental issues, we have forgotten what is truly at stake here. Case in point is an article in this very same paper about the impact of runoff from camp roads into Maine’s lakes and streams. I made mention of this potential problem quite some time ago, but not many seemed to show any interest in the problem. Everybody was too concerned about allowing a mega corporation to benefit from Maine’s backwoods lure.
The opinion most people seem to have had early on is that since The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) were both on board with the project, it must be OK for the environment. Some people still feel that way. That’s fine with me. After all, this is a free country, for now. But what I have a problem with is that people seem to accept sound bites and opinionated journalism as fact.
One fact that people are not generally aware of is the structure of these non profit industry groups. In particular is the Plum Creek (PC), TNC, and SFI cooperative. TNC is a global organization, who happens to be a NGO, or Non Government Organization of the United Nations. They are part of the initiative to develop and maintain various locales and regions around the world as non populated, or human free barrier zones around the world. TNC sits on the advisory board of SFI, and participates in the management philosophy development of the US’s timberlands. PC holds an advisory position on one of TNC’s advisory committees. PC also holds a position on the SFI board and determines whether or not its members, of which PC is, complies with the practices and standards developed by the SFI under the TNC guidance. So all three of these organizations are intertwined with each other. And their income depends on this relationship.
One of the trends I see across the nation is that TNC is making agreements with landholders and timber companies for control of the Nations timber assets and land by signing conservation easements and sale and trading of some protected land, creating large swaths of interconnected areas placed under the control of TNC, and thereby the UN through all of these agreements and contracts. This graphic shows the UN designated areas that are to become uninhabited corridors, and the land that TNC is trying to get control of matches the same areas shown in red. And it is not just in Maine this is happening. (right click on the map to open in a new window.)
Currently in Montana, in a town called Seeley Lake, the same process is gearing up. Plum Creek is presenting a proposal to develop around the area, while making conservation agreements that allow them to continue making piles of cash off of the land, and ceding ultimate control to TNC.
There is an insidious practice creeping across the Nation called “Smart Growth” This UN developed initiative includes a wide range of what are called “tools” that allow various groups to decide what an individual may do, or not do, with property they own and pay taxes on. In every case the tools provide a means for non profits to profit from these action, with the ultimate goal of providing TNC with the final word on these initiatives, and ultimately control over the land we own.
Maine is in a position to reverse this trend of backroom bargaining that is trading habitat protection and conservation for control over land. If the LURC approves this project, it will be a decision Maine will come to regret in a few years. This proposal will not provide the impetus to grow the economy of the Moosehead region in a way that is meaningful and sustainable. A case in point is the fact that in Montana, while we are discussing PC’s Seeley Lake and Lake Placid development plans, a lumber called the Simson Lumber Company is closing its doors. One of the largest lumber mills in Montana, 1023 people have received sixty day notices of the layoffs and closure.
Citing a downturn of business, with an apparent loss of about 33% of production, the owners of the company, based in Portland, OR, made the decision to close the facility. Already the mill owned housing has been purchased by a developer who plans to purchase the entire package of property, which is located at the foot of the Blackfoot River watershed area, another PC/TNC conservation project area. Claiming that the areas rich mill town history and recreational draw as a foundation for his plans, Scott Cooney, the developer was quoted as saying “It’s imperative that the community diversify its economic base and remove the cyclical basis of the wood-products industry,” Cooney said. “I’m not concerned by the mill closing, not in the slightest bit. I think that community is going to flourish regardless of the mill being there.”<p>
Will this be the fate of Greenville and the Maine Northwoods? Will a developer come along and buy or lease some of the proposed development land and say “I’m not concerned…..not in the slightest bit…”