Fairfield, ME – Volunteers with the Native Forest Network (NFN) staged a mock “Fossil Fool’s Day” awards ceremony today at the offices of the Plum Creek Timber Company to draw attention to the potential impacts of the company’s Moosehead region development proposal on the regional and global climate. If approved by the Land Use Regulation Commission, the group says, Plum Creek’s plan would increase Maine’s total carbon emissions by nearly 8%– a growth in climate-altering pollution that the state’s communities and ecosystems cannot afford.
Dressed in putting-green regalia and calling themselves “Golfers For Wilderness Sprawl,” the group presented an April “Fossil Fool’s Day” award to Plum Creek, “in recognition of their profound and ongoing contributions to global climate change.”
“As elite golfers, we’re delighted by Plum Creek’s efforts to turn Maine into Florida,” said an award presenter calling himself Biffy T. Stumpsworthy, “We’re committed to fostering a hospitable, year-round outdoor golf climate in every corner of the globe, and Plum Creek’s Moosehead development plan will help to do just that. Plum Creek is making Maine ‘the way golf should be.’”
Amidst the theatrical spirit, the group’s message was serious: “There is a global scientific consensus that the world’s climate is warming due to human impacts,” said NFN volunteer Emily Posner, “This warming will lead to an increasingly unstable and unpredictable climate, with potentially devastating impacts to Maine’s environment and natural resource economy. Plum Creek’s plan will only contribute further to this crisis.”
A conservative 2007 estimate by Environment Northeast suggests that Plum Creek’s development could contribute nearly a half million tons of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere in its first ten years of operation. An additional quarter million tons of carbon storage capacity would be lost due to the development’s deforestation effects over a period of 50 years.
Somerset county, where today’s action took place, is the nation’s largest maple syrup producing region and could suffer great losses if a changing climate were to make sugar production unviable. Maine’s extensive coastline, along with its already-endangered fisheries, could be adversely affected by rising water levels and changing ocean temperatures.
Although the study by Environment Northeast provides a baseline estimate, the true impacts of the plan are unknown. Native Forest Network believes that they will be much greater than the 2007 study predicts.
“The study only focused on impacts from deforestation and from local and regional travel to the resort,” said NFN member Hillary Lister, “They didn’t account for the impacts of additional plane flights into Bangor International, the transporting of extensive construction and demolition debris outside the region by truck, the use of fossil fuels by construction equipment, and the indirect emissions embodied in manufacturing, shipping and use of construction materials.”
Two other factors were also left out of the study: the impacts of different methods of forest management and the potential impacts of industrial activities on Plum Creek’s proposed “Legacy Easement” land.
Plum Creek claims the proposed multi-million dollar purchase by mainstream environmental groups of a conservation easement will offset any negative carbon impacts of the resort development. This claim, says NFN, doesn’t hold water.
“Plum Creek’s easement basically amounts to the company getting paid millions to continue the same high-impact industrial forestry that they’ve been practicing for years,” says Lister, “The company’s practice of low-diversity, single-age planting and harvesting significantly reduces the ability of the forest to capture carbon. A diverse, multi-age forest–the kind that is supported by true sustainable forestry–has much more positive impact on reducing atmospheric carbon.”
In addition to urging the Land Use Regulation Commission to deny Plum Creek’s application for rezoning, Native Forest Network members also call for the next version of the LURC’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to include clear standards for evaluating both immediate and cumulative impacts of development proposals on the regional and global climate. Public work sessions will be held across the state at the end of April to elicit input into the draft CLUP. NFN urges concerned citizens to attend and speak out about climate change.
Today’s event, part of an international “Fossil Fool’s Day” effort to identify root causes of climate change, was one of more than 100 protests organized worldwide. The message was both global and local: “This is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, and we are all called to respond,” says Emily Posner, “Maine’s North Woods are the lungs of the planet, and we as Mainers have a responsibility to protect them for our sake, for their sake and for the sake of future generations.”
ABOUT NATIVE FOREST NETWORK:
The Native Forest Network (NFN) is an all-volunteer group of people from across Maine working together to find out what Plum Creek’s Plan will mean for our communities and our future, and building just and sustainable alternatives that place the health of our communities before corporate profit. NFN is a designated intervenor organization in the Land Use Regulation Commission’s hearing process on Plum Creek’s rezoning proposal.
Hillary Lister, Native Forest Network, 207-649-5980