Saturday, October 1, 2011

“Southern” is a State of Mind

“We could tell the pro-park from no-park instantly because the pro-park men wore immaculate hiking boots and the women wore stone faces, graying hair, and no bras.” Mary Adams

The visit by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to Maine last August to Stearns High School in Millinocket, Maine, to discuss the proposed Maine Woods National Park was a brazen violation of states rights, and caused an army of stone-faced, pro-park professional environmentalists from the “south” to invade a small northern town, according to Mary Adams.

Of course “states rights” is the code word for extreme conservatism and has nothing to do with Roxanne Quimby’s proposed gift of 70,000 acres of private property plus $40 million to create and maintain a national park. Adams is a veteran right-winger who is game for any cause that reminds her of redcoats. She is from Garland, Maine (south of Millinocket) and the local face of the angry mob that's crippling America.

The Maine Tea Party and Adams' opposition to a national park serves as a proxy for the anti-government shtick they like to jump up and down and scream about, as our public institutions and infrastructure crumble. They don't care who owns Maine's North Woods, and they don't dislike people from the south, as long as they are big powerful private corporations.

Over the last dozen years without objection by Adams or the Tea Party the great land barons who owned Maine’s North Woods have quietly sold out to real estate investment trusts (REITs), timber investment management organizations (TIMOs) and pension funds from Georgia, Connecticut, North Carolina and abroad. Paper companies now only own about 15% of Maine’s woods, the largest undeveloped forest in the eastern United States.

National Parks create jobs, protect the environment and serve the public good. There is no geographic limit to the need for jobs and corporate accountability. Old weapons such as the mythical north/south chasm, and states rights divide people by shooting the messenger. The message is about government's role of protecting the public interest, not about zip codes and hair color.

Percival Baxter was from Portland, and though many locals in the Katahdin region feel they own Baxter State Park, we all own it. Every Maine tax payer also owns the Dolby Landfill in East Millinocket and will pay over $17 million to clean it up, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to operate it.

The proposed park land is not in Millinocket or Garland or Cape Elizabeth. It sits between Baxter State Park and the Dolby Landfill, and is surrounded by property owned by big corporations from away that are driven by short-term profits only. Everyone has the right to speak up about the Maine Woods National Park, and should.

1 comment:

sapereaude said...

Lessee here. One of my 7th great grandfathers lived on Spinney Creek and fished at the isles of shoals, so I have a little root in Maine's history. I also know that nearly four centuries of high-grading Maine's forest and near-shore waters have reduced our larger specimens of terrestrial flora and marine fauna by over 80% on land and in the sea, and we've lost at least two of our original forest megafauna, as well as all of our original near-shore marine megafauna. Maine's forest no longer contains any pines that scale over 8,000 board feet, and it's been nearly a century since anyone took a 350-pound swordfish within sight of Maine's shore. I'm all for a Maine National Forest Park provided that Maine residents can hunt, fish, and trespass there on foot or on horseback (but not on mechanized vehicles) , and provided that any logging is carefully monitored for selective low-grading.