Group calls Plum Creek ads deceptive


PORTLAND (AP) – An environmental coalition on Thursday said it will step up efforts to oppose Plum Creek Timber Co.’s revised proposal for a massive development project in the Moosehead Lake region.

Representatives of Save Moosehead Coalition said Plum Creek’s plan to develop nearly 1,000 house sites and several resorts over 10,000 acres is inappropriate for an area that serves as the gateway to Maine’s North Woods.

Plum Creek’s ads touting the proposal are misleading and misrepresent the facts, they said. The coalition is made up of the Forest Ecology Network, Restore: The North Woods, the American Lands Alliance and Friends of the Earth.

“Plum Creek wants us to believe that (the new) version is something that balances development and conservation. That’s nonsense,” said Jonathan Carter, head of the Forest Ecology Network. “Their sprawl proposal is about dollars and cents.”

Jim Lehner, Plum Creek’s general manager for the Northeast region, said that if the proposal is approved by the Land Use Regulation Commission, the company will donate or sell conservation easements totaling more than 400,000 acres.

“The ads are right on the spot and absolutely accurate,” Lehner said.

The project, which is the largest subdivision proposal ever in Maine, has aroused strong passions on both sides since it was first proposed last year.

Plum Creek last month filed a new proposal with LURC that included changes from its first application for the project.

The plan includes developing 975 house lots and two resorts, but it reduced the number of shorefront lots along Moosehead Lake that were included in the first proposal, and removed all housing lots from remote ponds. It scuttled plans for a marina and focused most of the development between Greenville and Rockwood on the southern end of the 40-mile lake.

In TV ads touting the revised plan, Plum Creek says the revised plan permanently protects more than 400,000 acres from development, while preserving the character of the area and guaranteeing public access.

Jym St. Pierre of Restore: The North Woods, said the ads are misleading because the conservation measures are not tied to the LURC application. By implying otherwise, Plum Creek is “blurring the lines” and confusing Maine residents, he said.

Carter and St. Pierre said they will be stepping up efforts in the months ahead to build upon their network of supporters to speak out in opposition to the plan.

AP-ES-05-25-06 1409EDT