December 9, 2023

LePage’s bond freeze jeopardizes the economy of Somerset County

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LepageMess*Editor’s Note* – Perhaps all is not lost in this effort to convince Governor LePage to change his mind. It seems that from the author of this piece, any hopes of anything worthwhile lies in the lap of Plum Creek and the deal that was struck for the Cold Stream project. It seems that Plum Creek negotiated this deal while in the midst of negotiating a deal with Weyerhaeuser. Does this mean Weyerhaeuser automatically drops the deal? Why would they? What is the reason that Plum Creek worked on this deal? Public relations might be a big reason. If Weyerhaeuser is buying up land and moving into Maine for the first time, perhaps in their effort to start off on the right foot, would be willing to propose an even better deal for the Maine people.

I know the old saying of “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” I wonder though if anyone involved in the negotiations with Plum Creek on the Cold Stream project, has made an attempt to contact Weyerhaueser to begin talks?

It seems that it is a better deal to sew up this agreement before the sale to Weyerhaueser, but if it doesn’t, better things might be ahead.

But, if it’s strictly about The Forks’ economy, and the author tells us that Weyerhaueser historically sells hunting leases (which can be big money), then the big money might come to the Big Woods. Then, businesses will have their dollars and the Maine sportsmen will be just plain hung out to dry.

“The Department of Conservation and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shall take a proactive approach to pursuing land conservation projects that include significant wildlife habitat conservation, including conservation of deer wintering areas.”

As a direct result of this new law, the Cold Stream Project, one of the greatest conservation projects of my lifetime, was developed and proposed for the West Forks region. Working with Plum Creek and the Trust for Public Land, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry negotiated a deal that would sell 8,153 acres of critical wildlife habitat to the state, including 3,000 acres of prime deer wintering habitat, 30 miles of trout spawning streams and nine undeveloped ponds. This gem surrounds West Forks and would forever be managed for wildlife and guaranteed traditional public access.

Then, last year, Gov. Paul LePage announced that he would hold hostage Cold Stream and more than 30 other approved Land for Maine’s Future projects, representing more than $10 million in conservation bonds approved by voters, until the Legislature agreed to allow more aggressive cutting on public lands and until they appropriated $5 million generated from cutting trees to pay for his new, still undefined, home heating program.

Source: LePage’s bond freeze jeopardizes the economy of Somerset County – Central Maine