April 07, 2020

George Smith supports private rather than public ownership of Maine’s forests except when a billionaire purchases 15,000 acres for, in Smith’s words, “his own private playground.” Many who oppose public ownership (state or federal) of Maine’s forests also want free and unlimited access to those forests for their recreational pursuits. They can’t have it both ways.

As Gov. Percival Baxter realized decades ago, the only way to keep Maine lands for Mainers is to buy them. We still have that opportunity, but time is running out. A temporary .5 percent sales tax increase dedicated to fund public land purchases would generate enough monies in just five years to buy hundreds of thousands of forestland and establish a permanent endowment for future land purchases.

Ecologically sensitive or unique areas should be allowed to revert to roadless wilderness, while other areas could be managed to allow for sustainable timber harvesting. Think about it. A few dollars for a few years from each of us would protect much of Maine’s forest and keep Maine lands for Mainers forever. John M. Glowa South China

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