We the people and businesses of Maine have been mired in the morass of forest theory and forest fact and forest lies for more than two years. For the health of Maine, the health of its people, and the future of business it is time that we moved out of this complex dilemma. It is time to review the bidding, let all the emotion and misemotion???? subside until the real facts of forestry emerge.
We must consider the biodiversity of the forest; we must consider the business and economic aspects related to forest; we must balance the economic health, the silviculture health, the individual job health of the citizen and the traditional values of Maine people. We must preserve Maine values, Maine mroals, and Maine economic health.
None of this can be done in a month, or a year, or even five years. We must have knowledge, experience, confidence in the results and the assurance that we are moving forward, not back. We are witnesses to the egregious forestry policy in the Northwest, which caused the collapse of entire towns, drive families and businesses into bankruptcy. The stated wisdom that we “must do something now” is totally false. The forests of Maine have been there for thousands of years and nature promises to provide regrowth under our stewardship for the future.
We have listened to thousands of words of impeneding doom for more than two years and as yet nothing has happened. Look at the facts, consider what you have been told would happen (not could, but would) by propohets speaking as if they had word from above. We need to be suspicious of some, cautious of most, and only authorize or provide movement or change of our forest policy and management when we absolutely know we will obtain the result we all want.
Are you willing to jeoparize the jobs of loggers? Of paper company employees? Of progessional foresters? Of the lumber company employees? Of the truckers who drive the lumber trucks? For that is what it all boils down to — the jobs and families of Maine people. We must not do something stupid that wil harm either people or the forests. Ask yourself if you are qualified to make a forestry judgment. Yet that is what they are demanding that you do.
We have a fine example of our stupidity. In 1989 the Forest Practices Act was passed with the assurance that forestry management and policy would be improved. Yet it has not been funded, nor have authorized foresters been hired, nor have the practices been fully implemented. Yet now we seem pressured endlessly to pass another “better” law. Better than what? We haven’t ried the original law, which happens to be the strictest forestry law in the country.
It is time we looked beyond the so-called forestry issue to see and understand what is really going on, what is generating all this pressure on our peopee to “solve” the forestry problem. The source is the overall environmental movement across the planet, which has generated Agenda 21, presented and approved by the United Nations at the 1992 Convention in Rio de Janeiro. A portion of that plan, being impelemented by the Clinton administration, is to preserve rivers and forests in a natural setting with no or minimum use by humans. The various environmental organizations across the country are treying to put these concepts in place, piece by piece, until they have fully established the “wilding” of America.
Here in Maine, the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society and the Maine Natural Resources Council are working on the same goal and concept. One of the most recent attempts was the bill to establish five reserve areas where no development could take place, or 4.2 million acres. We all defeated that attempt. These three organizations participated in the construction of the governor’s Compact. Again we defeated that effort, not once but twice. Now they are at it again with threats of doom and urgency. Their goal is 26 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, all to be controlled by them. They feel they must prev ent our greedy people and businesses from destroying those beautiful forests. They don’t care what happens to the families without jobs, the companies that can’t make lumber, and the companies that can’t make paper or furniture or houses.
It is time we recognized the real threat, not to our forests, but to our inalienable rights, our freedoms in this wonderfuly country. Our rights to work, to eat, to survive, to own land, to own trees, are all threatened by this paganistic religion of “Nature,” which is the fundamental force behind the elite leaders of these environmental groups.
They try to tie us up with mirage issues like clear-cutting, select cutting, plantation planting, one-third-acre canopy, using forestry lingo to conceal the real issue, while the real objective of wilding Ameican is achieved piece by piece.
It is time we moved behond the foresty issue, which is only a Trojan horse, to the real issues at stake — our way of life here in Maine, our jobs, our families, our values. These are the things we have fought for in many wars, many skirmishes. We fight for them in our Legislature, in our Congress. And most of us are willing to defend them with our lives, as we have done since 1776.
The rest of the country is under attack as we are. But we can validate that perennial saying in the time of Margaret Chase Smith, “We Maine goes, so goes the nation.” We can win this battle. We must win this battle. We simply must recognzie the real issue, shoot at the real target, and steadfastly preserve our values and our freedom. We should not pass any of the barrage of forestry bills in the 1998 Legislature. Time is on our side. It is time to move beyond the forests.
Robert O. Voight of Lubec is founder of the Maine Conservation Rights Institute.