Last year, the Legislature implemented new land use rules intended to conserve habitat essential to 65 species of ducks and other shorebirds. A November 12 Bangor Daily News editorial, “Coastal Setbacks, Round 2,” did a fine job explaining property owner distress over the new rules. As the BDN pointed out, these rules, developed since 1987 and put in statute a decade ago, had not been carried out due to a lack of precise maps to identify the habitat most critical for bird survival.
As chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, I recently attended a meeting Down East and a meeting of the Maine Real Estate and Development Association to listen to concerns and recommendations. It’s clear that these rules need amending. Consequently, I have submitted legislation to revise the rules in the next legislature, as have several other legislators.
There will be a thorough public review of years of work done by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, sportsmen’s groups, and other biologists as we examine justification for conservation efforts. As the BDN suggests, the focus should be on protections crucial for survival.
It is also crucial that property owners with investment-backed expectations for their land are respected and protected.
Ultimately, private property rights and conservation of natural resources have the same goal: to increase the commonwealth, produced by both private and public initiative.
Rep. Ted Koffman