View Full Version : Proposal to change management for Maine public reserve lands to primarily Forestry

02-26-2015, 07:19 AM
Many folks on this site use the Maine Public Reserve lands and don't realize the current proposed change in management goals


Maine citizens have been very active for over 30 years in trying to reclaim some public land as over the preceding 100 plus years the goal was to sell whatever land the state could get into private hands. Governor Baxter had so little faith in Maine's political establishment to protect BSP, that he went through significant legal maneuvering to keep the lands that he donated out of the clutches of short term political goals. There have been campaigns to save the Bigelows from development as well as the Abraham highlands and the traditional way to lock up the land has been to turn it over to the state to be managed by the Maine Bureau of Public lands. Maine like other states occasionally funds land acquisitions through voter or legislative action and generally the goal of the acquisitions are to protect special and endangered places. This land is usually handed over to the BPL. Forestry is not outright banned but the bar is set quite high for BPL lands with preservation and recreation access the higher priority. The proposed shift to management by the Maine Forestry Service is a radical one, the goal of the department is not evil it is intended to promote and regulate responsible forestry but ultimately their priority is to harvest trees and governor has direct control on how much revenue they are expected to raise. If he raises the bar, the MFS has to cut more high revenue trees.

I am not downing responsible forestry but I am downing the violation of the voters trust that these lands would be protected in the way that was represented over the years. Many of the properties were purchased for their mature timberstands and wilderness feel. Many of the lots have been in the states hands for 30 to 40 years with minimal management, therefore there is a lot of mature wood ripe for the picking. That makes a big short term revenue burst in the short term but the resultant forests will take 50 to 100 years to resemble the current forests. The governor will be long retired before the impact of the new policy will be recognized.

Lost Dad
02-26-2015, 08:30 AM
To add a bit to PB's thoughts regarding the use of MBPL land, I was recently in the Bigelow Preserve and did experience a logging operation in the southern portion of the preserve. However, the operation was being done in a very reasonable manner, with selective harvesting and very little compromise to the overall tree canopy. My experience does confirm the "higher bar" as set by MBPL.

More disturbing and almost shocking to me is the idea that there is a company that is proposing a helicopter skiing operation based in the Saddleback area. Check this out:

Mike P.
02-26-2015, 02:15 PM
How much ski terrain is out there that requires a helicopter to reach it. (getting to Saddleback for many people might require a helicopter which is why it's never been able to expand like Killington)

If I read it right, they are offering rides to the top? Is the ATC and National Park Service okay with that or are they staying just off the trail corridor? Thinking it's more of a novelty, like Mt. Washington's ski train. Would they offer rides to the Bigelows too? After landing, our backcountry skiing isn't like westerm backcountry. It's a lot of XC skiing to get back to where they could pick you up unless you are at an established ski area.

TJ aka Teej
02-26-2015, 10:51 PM
Elections have consequences. In this case, dire consequences.

02-27-2015, 05:21 AM
Thanks for the link, peakbagger. Most importantly, do you think we concerned citizens can have an impact at all by flooding our local politicians' phone lines and email inboxes? If so, I think it's time to get on that.

About the heli skiing, please start another thread with that. It has nothing to do with LePage's proposal to cut out BPL.

02-27-2015, 08:34 AM
In case folks are unaware of the major BPL lands in Maine, here is a PDF. http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/docs/your-maine-lands.pdf

Some names that may sound familiar, Mahoosucs, Tumbledown, Mount Blue, Rangeley lake, Richardson lake, Moose river Bow trip, Nahmakanta, Cutler Coast, Deboullie, Eagle Lake, Camden Hills Telos, Seboomook Lake, Lobster Lake, Bigelow Preserve and Grafton Notch

02-27-2015, 10:42 AM
While those are unique and beautiful areas I don't think we need to get panicy or political.

Though they are state lands, is there any reason to treat all of it like it had federal wilderness designation? Some areas probably "yes", others areas may be more compelling with managed forestry for the health of the forest and wildlife. One of the biggest threats to the North Maine Woods is wildfire and the notion of failing to manage it accordingly is very risky.

I have recently become familiar with some forest management plans. They can be very comprehensive and beneficial. I suggest that is where to spend your energy ... addressing sound management plans that benefit flora and fauna as well as hikers and other recreational users.

The fact that revenue can be obtained from a natural and renewable resource should not cause the knee jerk reaction that something is wrong with it. The state has an obligation to the taxpayers, too, and if some logging, in the context of a long term forest management plan, makes this and other state lands (existing and yet to come) more sustainable, then that is a good thing.

One of the biggest disappointments I've had in some travels is the "closed to the public" signs on so-called public lands. Sometimes it is due to the threat of fire, sometimes it is due to the sensititivity of some species of plant or animal ... but most often it is just the arbitrary closure of an area the responsible agency cannot afford to "manage", i.e. collect fees, police it and maintain it. We are fortunate in Maine to have access to a large part of the state, privately owned land, for recreational purposes at no cost to the public treasury, in fact it feeds that bottomless pit. I don't think such industrial forestry (though much of it is carried out under sound forest management plans) is what is proposed ... I would oppose that scale of operation. I am familiar with several of the areas in question and there are many acres worth preserving in its natural state but there are also some that would benefit from good forest management that includes some commercial cutting.

Personally, I am otherwise staying out of this. As a flatlander I figure those Maineiacs will figure it out for themselves, for the better, and there'll always be more Maine to recreate in than one could possibly do in a lifetime.

02-27-2015, 02:05 PM
It is a straw man argument to suggest that the OP is advocating for Federal Wilderness type regulations. Also you seem to be implying that the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands does not allow timber harvesting. It does.

Here is their mission statement:


Our Mission is to protect and manage the natural and cultural resources under our care in order to:
- Offer a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities
- Provide environmental and economic benefits for present and future generations
Over 700,000 acres are managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Conservation easements and leases bring the total land area managed to over 2 million acres.
These lands are managed for a variety of resource values including:
- Recreation
- Cultural and Historic preservation
- Wildlife
- Timber

Note that timber is is listed at the bottom and contrast that to the Maine Forest Service's Mission.


The key to Maine's past, present, and future quality of life and economic prosperity for its citizens is permanently linked to the condition of the State's forest resources. The Maine Forest Service works to ensure that the trees and forest lands of Maine will continue to provide benefits for present and future generations of Maine people.
The Maine Forest Service does this by:
- Developing, advocating for, and promoting activities that encourage the sound long term management of Maine's forest resources.
- Protecting Maine's forest resources from the effects of fire, insects, disease and misuse.
- Providing accurate, relevant, and timely information about Maine's forest resources.

Changing the regulatory body certainly appears to be an attempt to move the oversight to people more inclined to harvest more extensively.

02-27-2015, 09:08 PM
I agree, Tom, but I was envisioning, perhaps in error, that certain lands have specific resource value to be preserved regardless of the administering agency and that moving them into another agency would not necessarily displace that but certainly could open up a greater emphasis on harvesting. Often, when these bureaucratic shifts or mergers happen, parts of the old agency move into the surviving agency. Still, the risk of harvesting more, or in places, than some of us might consider reasonable is a strong possibility.

02-28-2015, 05:28 AM
My issue is that over the years the state and private individuals who donate to individual projects have been sold a bill of goods on how the land to be purchased is to be protected "forever". Much of the Maine public reserve lands are surrounded by industrial forest land that is actively managed, the BPL lands were selected to protect areas of special interest. I donated in the past towards at least one of those land campaigns and would be highly hesitant to donate to another.