Quoddy Tides
May 9, 2008

Letter to the Editor

MCHT Land Grab is not “Protection”

By Erich Veyhl

Your April 25 article omitted the harm to people caused by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) in its relentless campaign to supposedly “save” the 20 mile coast of Cutler, Trescott and Lubec. As a property owner at Moose Cove in Trescott for 22 years I am disgusted by MCHT's hostility and sneering denigration of those of us who own property the trust covets, portraying – in stock activist rhetoric – homes and their owners as evil “development”, “spaghetti lots”, “speculators”, “kingdom estates”, “threats” to the land, etc.

Those of us who own property along this coast have always loved it and our land. It is an enormous personal value to us and we have every right to be there. Property owners should not be demonized and squeezed out in a cynical campaign by arrogant elitists claiming to “save” something they want for their own purposes.

One might naively think that we would benefit from preservation of our “view”, but MCHT obviously resents us being in its view, ominously objecting that homes in the area damage the “viewshed”. The few homes originally intended for the land across Moose Cove from us that MCHT just took over would have been welcomed, are needed to build the local community and resurrect a dying economy, and would certainly have been preferable to the MCHT 900 pound gorilla that covets our property.

MCHT has a history of using its wealth and political connections in backroom attempts at government coercion to take over property it targets, including its infamous collaboration with the National Park Service in the 1980s in a sneak attack to plan a variety of government acquisition and land use prohibition schemes across Washington County. Having failed at those attempts when caught and exposed – which MCHT and its boosters want everyone to forget – the Trust is using its enormous wealth, tax exemptions and state subsidies to pursue its arrogant agenda through a process of attrition removing private ownership at the expense of the local economy, the tax base and the people who want to live here.

This is not about “needed public access”; they are building an empire and want it all. The trust and government now own well over half the Cutler-Trescott-Lubec coast, with another two miles now taken over. MCHT still regards this whole area as what it calls a single “unit” arrogantly targeted for “Whole Place preservation”. MCHT is a powerful organization with a demonstrated penchant for shady maneuvers and one never knows what chicanery it will pull next to threaten the rest of us.

People's homes along the coast do not destroy it and are not something to be “protected” against. Taking land out of individual private ownership is an ideological and political agenda, not “protection”. Uninhabited wilderness is not an intrinsic value taking precedence over the values of real people who have every right to be here, but who in the eyes of the Rockefeller-founded MCHT are mere riff raff and enemies. MCHT's own wealthy backers already have their own piece of scenic Maine, but under the promotional banner of “saving” something have arrogantly targeted an entire region where they do not want other people living.

It is journalistically inappropriate for newspapers to promote these acquisitions in glowing terms, dutifully employing press release rhetoric intended to emotionally manipulate readers into not realizing how people are being hurt for the sake of a relentless agenda. The same kind of promotional rhetoric was used when the pressure groups first started twenty years ago to take over most of Washington County to displace people for a Federal park in a plan that cited MCHT and the State Planning Office as its source. Indiscriminate promotions for “saving” and “protecting” what is in fact other people's private property ought to serve as a warning. It is not that some land conservation isn't good, but the elitist preservationists' politicking and religious-like zeal for locking up the land they want by any means possible should not be aided by presenting their misleading self-promotions as news while ignoring the harm to private property owners, the economy and the tax base.

Copyright © 2008 Erich Veyhl, All Rights Reserved. Posted by permission.

More on the Maine Coast Heritage Trust:

Anatomy of a Land Trust