The Creek Keeps Rising…..

Posted: 13/04/2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,
A few days ago I touched upon some of the Plum Creek Co. news from around the nation, and progress on some of their development in past stories. It’s interesting to see that while the developers of the Florida want to displace the Gopher tortoise instead of trying to live with them, habitats in other areas of the country are more than capable of supporting different species. I took this photo of a box turtle the other day in a pool that was nestled in between an exchange ramp and US Route 1. The developers could have allowed the tortoise to remain if they really wanted to. Of course, that would have meant less profit, so never mind.

But in another, unrelated story involving Plum Creek Timber Cos .development efforts in Montana, it appears as though they may indeed have learned to do things a little different after their battle here in Maine. The Clark Fork Chronicle presented an article regarding the backroom deals Plum Creek and the US Forest Service are wrangling over, completely without taxpayer input in any way.

Senator John Testor of Montana joined in the argument by submitting a letter to Undersecretary Rey of the USDA requesting that the doors be opened and the taxpayers be allowed to weigh in on the issue. He makes some very good points, and I hope the USDA recognizes the implications behind allowing closed door negotiations with a government body presents to the public. Here in Maine we have an ongoing and frequent argument in many communities with so called executive sessions whereby the ruling body permits the doors to be closed on some negotiations and discussions. While in some cases this may be legally mandated, such as in dealing with personnel issues and the like, all to often it is to make some sort of deal with a developer or special organization that wants a break on something. Either that, or some type of shenanigans are going on to hide a potentially embarrassing situation. But the taxpayer should still be involved, as it involves the taxpayers money. Ever notice how many politicians refer to the taxpayers as the public?

But at any rate, the article (http://www.clarkforkchronicle.com/trackback.php/20080411155932984. ) posts the full letter from Senator Testor, well worth reading if you’d like to go to it. He makes some pretty valid points that should have been made here in Maine when the LURC first started to examine this monstrous development plan. Precedents can be a dangerous weapon if used prudently by conniving parties. The Natural Resources Council Of Maine and others made a pretty good fight of trying to prevent this precedent setting development from happening, and we all just have to sit and wait for the outcome here. But the fight still goes on. This Bruno Medina plan to build a mega eco resort on Schoodic Point looks like an interesting issue as well. Couple of things I’ve dug up about him will be forthcoming in a few days after verifications have been made.

Getting back to Montana, and the points Sen. Testor has made, one comment in particular brings up the subject of employment opportunities. Testor writes…. “Additionally, as more timber lands are taken out of production, ancillary jobs and infrastructure in the timber industry are lost.” Job creation has been one of the benefits touted with this Moosehead development. In looking at all of the developments created by any large landowner in the United States, the only developments that have created any meaningful long term employment possibilities have been the commercial and industrial projects, such as shopping malls and business parks.

We can look at the long term affects of development right here in Maine by going to Long Creek in South Portland. Considered one of the most polluted waterways in the Nation by some, the damage caused to this particular habitat is directly related to mass development. The Maine Mall had plans for construction of a two million dollar treatment facility to deal with the storm water runoff, but dropped the plans when it decided against expansion of the Mall itself. But the Mall is not entirely responsible for all of the damage. All of the residential and commercial property in that area contributes to the pollution in Long Creek. When approval of these developments is considered, the entire picture needs to be examined.

But once the building boom has faded, if there even will be one, what will be left for employment opportunities to the people of Greeneville? Certainly there will be some jobs created, but what kind? And what kind of wages will be generated? Will it be worth the cost in the end? The people of Montana deserve the opportunity to ask these questions, just as we have here in Maine.

Testor also writes… “Plum Creek has announced that in coming years it plans to sell up to 2.5 million acres of land for the purposes of residential and business development. That land is valued in excess of $5.7 billion. The conversion of this land will lead to increased housing density in the wildland urban interface, leaving local and county governments with higher firefighting costs, fragmented habitat and increased road maintenance and infrastructure costs.” This is an issue that has seen very little light in most of the periodicals I have seen articles from. The taxpayer is the one who foots the final bill for all of the developments, no matter where they are.

Maine, Florida, Michigan, Montana, Arizona, Washington, whatever state you want to pick, all have the same issues with development and destruction of habitat. The same issues have been addressed over and over again, but we never learn. Mass development leads to mass destruction of habitat. We need to learn to examine each little piece of any proposal to see how it fits into the bigger issues that never seem to be addressed until well after the development has begun, and usually finished. Big money brings big projects, but big money never pays for the solutions to the problems. It’s always the little money, (i.e. individual taxpayer) that foots the bill.

I hope the people of Maine can unite with the people of Montana, and any other state facing these huge mega developments, no matter where they come from, or who wants to build them. These “concept plans” as they have been labeled are just “bad concepts.”

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