"Cover Story" piece on a referendum question that Mainers will vote on in Novemb


Chris Busby


Casco Bay Weekly




10-11, 13, 1


"Cover Story" piece on a referendum question that Mainers will vote on in November that would ban clear-cutting in Maine. Voters in the Greater Portland area may assume the initiative's implementation would have little or no effect on them, but they would be wrong. Of the over 17 million acres of forest land in Maine, 11.2 million acres are enrolled in the program, roughly two-thirds of which are large land tracts in northern Maine owned primarily by paper companies. Nearly 11,000 small woodlot owners manage 3 million acres registered under Maine's Tree Growth Tax Law program, which means the land is taxed according to its value as a productive forest, as opposed to its potential value as lots that could be developed. In Cumberland County, there were 1,277 individual lots enrolled in the program as of 1998, accounting for 71,872 acres of forest land. Many of those who own these lots oppose the initiative and predict its passage would spur sprawl because much of this land would be removed from the Tree Growth Tax program and sold for development. But sprawl isn't the only consequence at stake. The Maine Forest Service estimates the state's timber supply would be reduced by one-third in the first 10 years following implementation, and that such a drop in harvest would have a catastrophic effect on the state's forest products industry, and the 32,000 Mainers its employs.


Clear-cutting, Forest management, Referendums (State)