Falmouth – Maine Audubon announced today that it opposes construction of the proposed privately-funded east-west highway though Maine. Several bills on the east-west highway proposal will be considered in a public hearing today, Tuesday, April 30, at 1 pm, in the Transportation Committee Room, Room 126 at the State House in Augusta.
The proposed highway, which would run from the Calais area on the New Brunswick border, to the Coburn Gore area on the Quebec border, would be sited in the middle of the largest unfragmented temperate broadleaf and mixed forest in the nation. Though promoted as an improvement to existing roads, the conversion of logging roads and right-of-ways to an international high-speed highway will have a permanent impact on Maine wildlife and habitat. The new highway would cause substantial habitat fragmentation, impede wildlife movement and increase conflicts between people, roads and wildlife.
The proposed highway would run through Downeast Maine, the Penobscot River Watershed and Western Maine mountains and lakes, areas identified as having national significance under President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which focuses on conserving and connecting the nation’s landscapes and watersheds.
“While we recognize the economic challenges facing the areas through which the prospective highway would be sited, we believe the environmental costs are too high for unproven economic benefits,” noted Ted Koffman, Executive Director at Maine Audubon. The construction of a high-speed highway through Maine will not only increase habitat fragmentation and hinder animal movement, but will cause direct habitat loss, degrade air and soil quality and increase wildlife vehicle collisions, putting people and wildlife at risk of injury or death. The new highway could also encourage new haphazard development along its length.
“This proposed highway is a major threat to the recovery of some of our most iconic and rare species, including the brook trout, wood turtle, Atlantic salmon and Canada lynx, and will undermine the environmental integrity of the largest undeveloped and unfragmented forest in the Eastern United States,” said Sally Stockwell, Director of Conservation at Maine Audubon. To learn more about the organization’s wildlife and habitat projects, please visit www.maineaudubon.org.