Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC), the land use authority for Maine’s 10.5 million acres of unorganized territories, is considering a proposal that would open hundreds of thousands of acres to residential subdivisions and commercial development. Since this major planning effort got underway a few years ago, Maine Audubon has been there every step of the way.
Why? Because a lot is at stake. Maine’s North Woods, comprised nearly solely of unorganized territories, is the largest unfragmented forest east of the Mississippi, and one of the largest remaining temperate forests in the world. Maine’s North Woods is the crossroads of an extensive wildlife habitat network, spanning from upstate New York to Nova Scotia, where wide-ranging mammals like black bear, moose, bobcat, and fisher can move between core habitat areas to meet their daily, seasonal, and life needs. It is also home to 97 percent of the wild Brook Trout waters in the Eastern United States, and is a globally-recognized Important Bird Area because of its significance as breeding grounds for dozens of song birds, many of which are in steep decline.
We’re concerned the proposed changes to where development can be located in the North Woods will unduly fragment habitat and degrade water quality — as well as undermine the health of existing communities in the unorganized territories. On June 20, Maine Audubon spoke at a public hearing in Brewer in opposition to the proposed rule changes as currently drafted. You can read our complete comments here (PDF).
Among our comments was a request that the LUPC make further efforts to engage stakeholders, especially members of communities in the unorganized territories. More input, including knowledge that is specific to those that live, work, and play in the area, will yield a better result.
Does that include you? If you feel strongly that Maine not fragment our North Woods, please review the proposed rules and submit your comments to the LUPC.
Development in the North Woods should minimize habitat fragmentation by maintaining large habitat blocks, establish wildlife corridors between those blocks, and sustain resources and refuge for common and rare plants and animals across the jurisdiction. Please help us deliver this important message.