Downeast Coastal Press
October 14, 2003

Flotsam & Jetsam Column

Habitat Program: Land-Grab Scheme

By Herb Cleaves

The program Beginning with Habitat is an unwitting per-petrator of a radical environmental philosophy or has subscribed to that agenda. If we didn't know what Habitat was up to before a recent session with the locals in Addison (see Downeast Coastal Press, October 7, 2003), we know now.

Participants in this scheme to hamstring human enterprise in rural Maine include state and federal agencies and other “conservation” entities that are interested in rendering your property valueless to you.

Beginning with Habitat represents the interests of state and federal environmental agencies, Audubon Society, Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. Their alleged goal is to “help” towns plan for open space.

If you wonder why southern Maine planners are involved, you need to understand that this Johnny-come-lately program has decided it is too late to impose its agenda in that area. But they can still force planning boards in the boonies to kowtow to state dictates regarding use of private land.

Equipped with the latest computer-generated maps and data, Habitat's contingent at the show-and-tell session provided hints as to where that caravan is really headed.

Here's a quote attributed to the group's head propagandist at the meeting. “Conservation of wetlands and surrounding riparian habitat is essential to ensuring that the full complement of Maine's plants and animals persist on the landscape. “If individual towns do a good job of implementing existing shoreland zoning regulations, up to 80 percent of Maine's terrestrial vertebrate animals that use riparian areas for a part of their lifecycle will benefit.”

In a nutshell, here's how the game is played. Somebody far removed from life on the frontier “discovers” a rare species and finds a government agency to agree that it needs protection. That creature, let's call it the addled-brain eastern polecat, takes on new meaning and so does its habitat. Pretty soon, the back 40-which you were holding in an undeveloped state for the benefit of your grandchildren-is designated as habitat for the latest celebrity in the land-grabbers' arsenal.

So you lose control of that part of your property. Don't think that just because you can't cut the bushes or drain the swamp you won't get a tax bill on the land. Your taxes, after all, keep the likes of Beginning with Habitat in the business of making your life miserable.

If you read the story in the DCP last week, you likely realized that your back 40 is not the only property in danger of being lost. The neighbor three houses down the road also has land the polecat tramples from time to time. So, another 40 acres is lost to future-generation Down-Easters.

Then, of course, the polecat has a path from your back 40 to your neighbor's. The plan is to develop connecting corridors between the two. The barbecue pit your closest neighbor enjoyed last summer will be off-limits because that's where the polecat stops to urinate en route from one back 40 to the other.

It has become obvious that the human is Down East's most endangered species.

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