Environmental group criticizes Plum Creek PR


PORTLAND (AP) – Plum Creek Timber Co.’s public relations offensive in support of its revised Moosehead Lake proposal is coming under fire by Maine’s largest environmental group.

Pete Didisheim of the Natural Resources Council of Maine says Plum Creek has aired television ads and hired public relations professionals and lobbyists in hopes of influencing public opinion before the proposal’s details are made public.

He said Plum Creek’s plan appears to be an improvement over the oft-criticized original proposal. But he said details of the plan have been kept “secret.”

“This is an insult to Maine people who are trying to understand how the company’s proposals for conservation and for development will affect the future of an entire region of the state of Maine,” said Didisheim.

Details should be forthcoming this week when Plum Creek submits its proposal to the Land Use Regulation Commission, said Jim Lehner, Plum Creek’s regional general manager.

The new development plan reduces the number of shorefront lots planned along Moosehead Lake by 95 to 480. It also removes all housing lots from remote ponds, scuttles plans for a marina and focuses most of the development south of Rockwood and north of Greenville.

The deal also includes the conservation piece of Plum Creek’s development plan. The company plans to donate future development rights on 71,000 acres of forest east of Moosehead. The company would be paid for giving up the ability to develop the rest of the land.

Plum Creek announced that it had completed its revised plan last week. Afterward, the company began airing a television advertisement featuring a Greenville native touting the plan. Two more TV ads are expected to be aired, Lehner said.

Didisheim said the company is rolling out the plan “like it’s a referendum or a political campaign.”

He also the preliminary information shown by Plum Creek is confusing Mainers.

A map given out at the first press conference shows green conservation lands along the shorefronts of several water bodies, including Prong Pond and Upper Wilson Pond. The map released at the second press conference shows development on the shoreline within the conservation area.

Lehner said the maps are accurate, and that the house lots near those ponds are within and surrounded by the conservation land.