Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Great Maine Forest Initiative (I)

For nearly two years now, a group of about 20 people drawn from state government, non-profits, forest industries, and land trusts have been meeting under the auspices of the University of Maine to discuss the future of Maine's Great North Woods. Their report is now available at http://www.crsf.umaine.edu/pdf/KeepingMainesForests_2009.pdf .

I haven't yet read the full report, but this doesn't sound like business as usual, some academic thing to be presented and filed away. It sounds serious, and promising. Pleasing all these constituents, from the environmental purists to the loggers, will be difficult but vital not only to the health of Maine but also to our collective spirits and psyches. I can't imagine what not having Maine's vast wilderness would mean except to predict impoverishment on all levels.

To keep it will undoubtedly involve the federal government. Apparently Interior Secretary Salazar on his recent visit to Maine expressed interest in helping, and the Department of Agriculture is also interested. Many Mainers don't want the feds anywhere near this (a common theme for 400 years), but like health care, there may be no other source of the money, the authority, and moral imperative to do the right thing. Left to themselves, individuals or even individual organizations will probably not rise above self-interest and strive for the greater good.

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