State-Local Planning Fight over Maine Forest at Tipping Point

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A battle to control planning of some 16,000 square miles of the Maine North Woods has boiled over in New England’s largest state, pitting the legislature, local counties and a state commission in conflict over the future of some 10.4 million acres of vast undeveloped and largely uninhabited forest.

In a working forest timber companies co-existed with hunting, fishing and snow-mobiling. A Land Use Regulation Commission oversaw where development took place for the past 40 years. Where there was once a balance has now reached a tipping point in the battle between central planners and local government.

Thousands of privately owned wooded acres, once owned by timber companies, are now owned by those who would develop prime waterfront lots for vacation homes. But there are groups who say the Maine forestland belongs to all the people in Maine and should be kept for passive recreational and timber uses.

Colin Woodward explores the issue in DownEast.com, the website of Maine.

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