We had another tense legislative session this year for the Maine Woods, but I do have some good news to report.
Land Use Regulation Commission: The LURC (now named Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC)) Reform Bill passed. Thanks to all of our activists who helped us keep LURC intact.
- The good news: LUPC will remain the oversight regulatory commission for the Unorganized Territories (UT), and counties will not be allowed to opt out.
- The concerning news: The reforms that were approved will result in new interests having influence on development decisions. Eight individual counties that include the UT will appoint either a county commissioner or a designate to sit on the nine member Land Use Planning Commission. This very localized representation may set the stage for less consideration of the state-wide importance of the resources of the UT. In addition, corporate landowners strongly support the decision making in the hands of county commissioners - where their access and influence may be more effective.
The change in composition of the commissioners who make regulatory decisions for the Maine Woods will warrant close monitoring over the next months/years - especially in light of other unsettling legislative actions which could unleash a tsunami of threats to the Maine Woods.
Mining: a "late-in-the-session" bill to loosen mining restrictions in the Maine Woods passed.
Takings: still pending: a bill to open the door for all types of landowners to demand compensation from the state if environmental regulations reduce the profit-making potential for development of their land. This is the deadly minority report version of the bill, which would result in a storm of cases for state review or the option of the state granting exemptions from regulatory protections.
You can contact your legislator and ask him/her to support the more reasonable majority report that would establish a legislative land use review system. To find your legislator, click here.
East/West Highway: a bill was passed to authorize $300,000 of public money to fund an analysis of the Cianbro Corporation's proposal to build an East West Toll Highway for truck transport across the Maine Woods between New Brunswick and Quebec, Canada. We are monitoring this issue closely. To learn more about it, contact Karen Woodsum, email@example.com.
Saturday, April 28: Sierra Club and Alaska Wilderness Alliance are holding a Rally for the Arctic in conjunction with the IMAX opening of the film "To The Arctic." Come show your appreciation for the Arctic and check out the Polar Bear Dance.
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Place: East End Beach, Portland
For more info: Karen Woodsum, firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-446-5354.
On Earth Day weekend we kicked off a series of Maine's Public Lands outings with a spring bird walk at the Wells Estuarine Reserve. On a beautiful Saturday, we had a group of 13 with a passionate birder to identify bird calls. A great time was had by all. Keep an eye out on our calendar for more outings on public lands near you!
Highlight your Connection to the Maine Woods: An exciting new Sierra Club online opportunity that invites people around the country to share a story of a place that is special to them, called My Piece of America. I will send out the link when it goes live in the next month or so and I hope that you will log on, share your story and shine a light on what an amazing place Maine is!!!
Thank you for your continued support and I hope to see you at an outing this summer. If you have an idea for a great outing, please let me know!
Maine Woods Campaign Director
P.S. - Stay connected. Check out the chapter's new Facebook page!