Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Great (and no-so-great) North Woods

I'm not a particularly political person, but Paul LePage is well on his way to making me one. A few days after attending an environmental forum (at which he claimed to believe in science, that science would be his guide), the Governor released a long list of environmental regulations he wants modified or even eliminated. That's bad enough, but also on the list was the astonishing proposal to open 30% of the Great North Woods to development. That's 3 million acres (15 times the size of Baxter State Park) of potential strip malls and second homes and resorts and subdivisions.

I shouldn't be astonished at the bias - this is from the man who is holding 25 Red Tape Audit business forums around the state and 1 environmental one. I'm astonished at the crudeness of the math:
  • In a state having trouble attracting business at all, how in the world will LePage fill 3 million acres?
  • How did he determine that 30% is the right number? By adding up the holdings of his business friends?
  • Why not just propose the whole 10 million acres of unorganized territories open?
  • Who gets to develop those acres?
  • Which acres will be developed?
  • Will there be a good old-fashioned land rush, with Paul LePage as sheriff?
The proposal makes no sense, of course. It's meant simply to be an assault, a cynical political statement made for publicity, a way to undercut or eliminate the Land Use Regulatory Commission. Let's hope it turns out to be as unsuccessful as it is mendacious.

This week also saw the announcement that John Malone, of Liberty Media (cable TV) fame and wealth, is buying 980,000 acres of Maine forestland. Perhaps there is a connection, for Mr. Malone says he will continue the land's use for lumbering and recreation, i.e., not development, although he has said nothing about conservation or preservation.

With these two announcements we truly are retreating several hundred years back in Maine's history, into the era of legislative land grabs (c.f., the British, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), and rich men founding kingdoms (c.f., the Binghams, the Pingrees) in the 17th and 18th centuries. And if we are not careful and watchful, we'll also get another devastation of woods and lakes and rivers ala the 19th and 20th centuries. If only the Republicans would remember that their party was founded by high-minded statesmen like Abraham Lincoln and William Seward, not low-minded businessmen like George Bush and Paul LePage.

1 comment:

Jeff Boatright said...

"If only the Republicans would remember that their party was founded by high-minded statesmen like Abraham Lincoln and William Seward, "

And if only a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his butt when he hopped.

And if my aunt had b@lls, she be my uncle. (Hey, I was raised by a Marine).

And if...And if...

Sorry, we are way, way past Republicans remembering anything. Your two snow queens will either leave the party (I? D?) or be primaried into the TP dustbin.