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Big Questions in Maine's North Woods

NEW YORK, NY - June 23, 2008 - As Maine's Land Use Regulatory Commission (LURC) enters the final phase of deliberations over Plum Creek Timber Company's controversial proposed development in the Moosehead Lake region, the recent publication of the Maine Policy Review examines some of the larger issues at play in Maine’s North Woods. The issue, produced by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center in partnership with the Open Space Institute, asks such questions as:

  • What types of conservation and rural development models strike an optimal balance between ecological protection and community and economic opportunities for the region’s residents? 
  • What has the last 20 years of conservation in Maine accomplished? 
  • Does Maine have the planning tools it needs to manage conservation and development in a region facing unprecedented transitions in ownership, investment, and uses? 
  • How do we establish world-class tourism experiences and markets? And, to what degree will tourism in the Northern Forest be shaped by eco-resort development? 

In late 2005, OSI's Conservation Research program began a land use and financial analysis of the Plum Creek Timber Company’s proposed development for over 400,000 acres of land around Moosehead Lake in Somerset and Piscataquis Counties in Maine.

In response to the initial concept plan put forward by Plum Creek, we entered into a partnership with the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine and Industrial Economics, Inc, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based private consulting firm. Our mutual goal was to elevate the increasingly polarized debate over Plum Creek’s application. After two years of research, OSI released three reports and testified at the December 2007 hearings in Maine on the company’s controversial plan. 

We applaud the fine work of Katherine Hunt and the staff of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and Library. An online edition of the Review includes two articles by Peter Howell, OSI’s executive vice president, a feature by Jerry Bley among others:

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: The Future of Timber Investing in the North Woods: A Conversation with Clark S. Binkley. Peter Howell interviews Clark Binkley, on his long-term experience as a timberland investment manager and his analysis of the future of timber markets in the Northern Forest.

From Diamond International to Plum Creek: The Era of Large Landscape Conservation in the Northern Forest (PDF): Peter Howell and Sara A. Clark discuss how Maine has been a laboratory for some of the largest and most innovative land transactions in the region.

LURC's Challenge: Managing Growth in Maine's Unorganized Territories: OSI consultant on the Plum Creek Report, Jerry Bley, presents the history of this unique agency, the lands under its jurisdiction, how it has managed development and what may lie ahead.

The Maine Policy Review publishes independent analysis of public policy issues relevant to Maine by providing accurate information and thoughtful commentary. The journal is published two to three times per year by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine and the Margaret Chase Smith Library.

The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, established in 1989, is a nonpartisan, independent research and public service unit of the University of Maine. The Center is dedicated to improving and promoting the quality of public dialogue about state, regional and national policy issues through applied policy research and projects that seek innovative solutions to practical problems. 

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