I was deeply saddened to learn of Central Maine Power’s quiet push for a 145-mile power corridor through Maine’s North Woods. While not currently a Maine resident or CMP ratepayer, I feel I have a stake in the landscape that CMP looks to degrade without regard for its stakeholders or the region’s valuable natural resources.
My great-great-great-great-grandfather, Galon Newton, moved to Moose River with his brother, Jacob, in 1828. Family members eventually spread into the communities from Dennistown to the Forks, and my grandfather, Linwood Moore, was born in Moose River in 1930. While I live in northern New Hampshire now, I make at least one trip every year to visit the woods, ponds and rivers in which my grandfather grew up.
Every year, I spend time on the Kennebec River and never cease to be impressed by its beauty. You see, while I live surrounded by the beautiful White Mountains, there is something about the upper Kennebec River watershed that is special. Those qualities were documented in 1982 when the Maine Rivers Study was released by the state of Maine in coordination with the National Park Service. They were further documented and protected in 1987 by the Maine Legislature when it stated that the section of river below Harris Dam contained “significant river-related natural and recreational values” that “provide irreplaceable social and economic benefits to the people in their existing state.”
The outstandingly remarkable values that dominate the upper Kennebec make it a prime candidate for the nation’s system of Wild and Scenic Rivers. In fact, the river is eligible based on its scenic, recreational and hydrological values.
Central Maine Power has a responsibility to prove that its proposed actions will not irrevocably degrade those values and negatively impact the social and economic benefits that they provide.
I have carried my grandfather’s ashes down through the Gorge on multiple trips and, every time, I imagine what it was like when he fished this area as a boy. I remember asking him what it was like before the Indian Pond Project and hearing of the wooden dam and the log drives and, of course, the spectacular fishing. The concrete dam tamed some of the wildness that existed in his youth, but anyone who has been through the Gorge since 1954 knows that wildness remains.
A massive power line would strangle that wildness and blight the landscape that my family and so many others have held dear.
I sit in New Hampshire relieved that the state has just said “no” to a massive transmission line, but I am worried about my next trip to Maine. Will this fall’s bird-hunting trip be the last before a swath in cut across the landscape? Will my next float down the Gorge be marred by overhead transmission lines? Will CMP come to its senses and pull back from this damaging proposal?
I can only hope so for my children, with whom I want to visit the Kennebec River. I want to share in the awe of the scenery and tell stories of our family who were raised with this amazing backdrop and how it taught them a respect for the land and their neighbors.
It is a lesson I hope people can help teach CMP as well.
Justin Preisendorfer is a resident of Thornton, New Hampshire.