Defense of property rights is a huge issue in rural Maine. Well-heeled environmentalist activists and government agencies have since 1988 been openly campaigning and lobbying for a government takeover of private property throughout most of rural northern New England. They want the kind of government ownership and control they have in Alaska, which they treat as more of a Federal colony than a state, and in greenline areas such as the Columbia Gorge (OR & WA) and the Adirondacks (NY) where the people have been stripped of their property rights. They have focused on the downeast coast as one of their high priority targets in northern New England to do this again.
It began for us in 1988 when I read an article in the Boston Sunday Globe announcing plans to take over most of our county in eastern Maine for a new National Park, which if not stopped in time would have resulted in massive eminent domain takings of private property. Part of the plan, already moving ahead in Washington, DC, was to “Greenline” the remaining private property with strict land use prohibitions, leaving the owners with little more than the deed and the tax bill.
This web page links to articles on some of the property rights issues continuing since then. Many of these articles also pertain to environmentalism and property rights issues nationwide because they deal with the national environmentalist lobby and Federal agencies, and because the tactics used by state agencies and pressure groups to take private property around the country are the same (and some of the articles are directly about problems in other states). As we quickly learned, we are not alone – the viro political pressure groups have similar designs on most rural areas in the nation.
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New – December 22, 2014 – USFWS internal "Hocutt memo" from 1993 acknowledges duplicitous agency PR campaign directed at local residents and property owners targeted for restrictions and acquisition in the Canaan Valley, WV. Tactics mirror ongoing viro action in Maine and nationwide. Original 14 page "Hocutt memo" and the public response by the Regional Director in Massachusetts trying to quell the controversy are now available for download. This controversy in the Canaan Valley continues to erupt as the now 20-year old 900 pound gorilla National Refuge continues to arrogantly expand its dictatorial power, most recently threatening to shut down a popular local youth science institute to take over for an expanded headquarters.
New – March 25, 2014 – Quimby's Plan B National Monument Strategy
New – March 25, 2014 – Restoring Maine's authority over ceding land and jurisdiction within its borders to the Federal government under LD1828
New – August 16, 2010 – Maine Property Rights News Alert August 8, 2010: ALRA: Concord, NH, Obama's Great Outdoors Land Grab Meeting Mon. Aug 9
New – June 28, 2010 – Federal “Keep Maine Forests” “All Lands” plan for eliminating private property rights and the private economy under a quasi–governmental agency dominated by viros and lots of Federal money.
New – February 26, 2010 – Anatomy of a Land Trust
New – May 17, 2008: Downeast Coastal Press – Down–Easters Fault LURC's Proposed Land–Use Plan Revision Concerns Raised over Vague Terminology, Lack of Focus on Development — County Commissioners Opposed, Citing Anti–Democratic Process.
New – May 17, 2008: Downeast Coastal Press – Washington County Commissioners' testimony on LURC Land Use Plan
New – May 11, 2008: Quoddy Tides – MCHT Land Grab is not “Protection”
In 1990 I attended the New England Environmental Network conference at Tufts University and found that the national environmentalist lobby was actively planning for a Federal takeover of 26 million acres of private property in northern New England. This is a transcript of Audubon Society Vice President Brock Evans' [now head of the National Endangered Species Coalition] portion of the panel discussion in which environmentalist leaders outlined their goals and strategy in the campaign to take over private property in northern New England.
Evans' remarks were intended for fellow viro political leaders, not the public. When they made the newspapers following release of the transcript of his speech he tried to deny it. Here is a typical example.
The national environmentalist lobby subsequently organized the “Northern Forest Alliance” to control and fund activist organizations under a central strategy. Here we see summaries of the big plans, plus a strategist in the Environmental Grantmakers Association – the umbrella organization coordinating activist funding – discussing the scope of a long term campaign to gain political control of private property in northern New England and undermine local opposition. And we see a radical group consisting of those who just can't contrain themselves to a few tens of millions of acres for the “primeval”, serving to make the “mainstream” radical groups appear “reasonable” in comparison.
Targeting Maine played a prominent role in this series on national strategic funding aimed at government takeovers of private property.
The Obama administration put national radical viro leaders in charge of government land agencies, EPA, etc. where they immediately pursued imposition of statist policies against private land ownership and the economy. The original agenda to take over million acres of private property in Maine was automatically part of this and top Obama officials were in Maine collaborating with viro activists from the beginning.
Viro Park and Greenline activists who became state officials under Governor Baldacci have collaborated with the Obama administration, other viro activist groups, and beleagured industrial property owners to arrange for massive new government funding and eco land use controls over 12 million acres of rural Maine targeted for elimination of private property rights.
The plan is in part a temporary Federally funded bailout of large landowners who are losing their rights under regulatory takings and ceaseless pressure from wealthy, politically well–connected activist groups engaged in a strategy of economic strangulation of private industry, business and home owners who try to use their own land.
In exchange for the bailout of large landowners the plan calls for escalation of centralized eco–control and Greenline land use planning, and ultimately hundreds of millions of dollars or more of Federal funds to be granted to the politically privileged viros as they buy or otherwise control the land for ecological purposes and to prohibit non “forest” uses.p
The plan proclaims itself to be a “bold initiative to advance national conservation goals” and that the land is a “resource of national and global importance”, which means that property rights are considered irrelevant as anything but a temporary nuisance.
The targeted 12 million acre region extends from the downeast coast of Maine to the western border with New Hampshire, and engulphs all property owners and businesses whether they acquiesce to the scheme or not. The report claims consensus, but opponents of the concept were excluded from the “negotiations”, which were arranged within a so–called “Steering Committee” of selected participants.
The “Steering Committee” group met in secret and has no authority to represent anyone. The plan would literally change the form of government over most of Maine as it imposes social controls through the elimination of the freedom made possible by private property rights and the private economy, replacing them with severe eco-restrictions and manipulation through Federal money.
The report makes it clear that a major goal is to “connect” areas already taken over for “conservation” and that viros envision fee acquisition of large areas called “high value” to “to protect the public's interest”, which to them can and does mean everything they can get. The report calls acquisitions, in the contemporary rhetoric of government, “investments”
The report omits details on how government money and restrictions will be managed and used under what regulations for long term coercion, and what agencies will own and manage the land and the next round of easements and enforce land use prohibitions. It employs the typical rhetoric of &ldquote;protection” to mean controling use of someone else's private property, and of “encouraging local and regional planning efforts that identify appropriate locations for future economic developmet and areas of high conservation need” – which means Greenline controls.
Viro activists openly promoted Greenlining at the beginning of their National park and wilderness campaign in the 1980s, citing the Columbia Gorge and the Adirondacks as “models” for Maine, but stopped using the term “Greenline” when residents of those areas began speaking out in Maine about what had been done to them through acquisition and land use controls despite the utopian promises originally used to sell the scheme.
“Compromises” with viros always mean that they take what they can get and come back for the rest later, and such is the nature of this scheme and the previous “Forest Legacy Progam” for Federal funding of state-held “easements“ arising from the Northern Forests Lands Council in the early 1990s. Large landowners decided then that if they were going to lose their property rights to ongoing, escalating regulatory takings by the state on behalf of the viros, then they might as well be paid for it. In order to head off further financial losses they agreed to the pretense of selling “easements” as “willing sellers”, relinguishing most control over affected nominally private land to the viros and the state.
Now, following bruising anti-development campaigns and smelling opportunity in the sympathetic Obama administration government, the viros have escalated their Northern Forests Lands campaign once again on their way to a complete government takeover; they want to connect the pieces they have already assembled and implement a quasi-government bureaucracy dominated by viros and funded by the Federal government to plan and acquire millions more acres of private property across entire “landscapes”, eradicating rural private property rights for all time. This is part of Obama's NPS “Treasured Landscape” and USFS “All Lands” agenda for acquisition and control of rural private property on a massive scale.
“Pilot” programs – as if the viros don't know exactly where they are going with permanent widespread control – target regions of Maine that were fingered in 1988 for five massive new National Park Service takeovers, which scheme failed but remains an ultimate political goal of the viros. With arrogant Alice in Wonderland understatement the report admits that “not all landowners in the demonstration landscapes have expressed interest in taking advantage of potential conservation or stewardship options”.
The plan pays lip service to the forest industry economy while seeking to impose a form of eco-fascism – in its literal meaning of allowing some property to be nominally in private ownership but controlled by government, in this case for eco preservationist purposes. The report employs the usual rhetoric of “public-private partnership&redquo;, as if such a “partnership” between the private sector and government coercive power could mean anything other than government control guaranteed over time to destroy the private economy and eradicate private property rights as control is increasingly transferred to eco-bureaucracy.
Roxanne Quimby's large-scale preservationist acquisitions provide an open illustration and sweeping self-caricature of the role and purpose of the radical wing of the land trust movement taken to its logical extreme as they are currently motivated and organized to eliminate private property.
Born in Cambridge MA, Quimby came to Maine in the 1970s from a radical New Left California ‘arts’ college as a hippy back–to–the–lander living in deliberate poverty. Decades later she fell into a fortune after tapping into someone else's small business selling bees wax – her contribution to the business was outlandishly high markups for small packages, selling something of little value into the high–paying “natural” fad market.
As her business grew, Quimby took it out of Maine because of high state taxes – which such progressives favor when applied to someone else – then later sold to a large corporation for a fortune. She came back to Maine to spend tens of millions of dollars buying and accumulating some 200,000 acres of Maine timberland with the intent to stop logging and most traditional recreation in rural Maine by turning millions of acres of land into primitive wilderness in accordance with the Restore agenda. She was on Restore's board of directors for years and has said that she intends her land to be a “seed” and a “down payment” on the millions of acres she wants the National Park Service to take over once it would become established in the region.
Quimby intends to flip her own land to the National Park Service in the name of “gift”, thereby eliminating private property rights and local government in favor of Federal control for forced wilderness forever – as if any person has a right to change the form of government, replacing civilization and private property rights with primitivism, as she uses her dubiously acquired wealth to buy government policy for an imposed eco-socialism.
Quimby is opposed to property rights and is exploiting the mechanisms of real estate in order to destroy them, while her supporters pretend she has the “right” to pursue her agenda of government control in the name of property rights. Yankee Magazine reported in March 2008:
“Roxanne's plan is somewhat counterintuitive. She returns to the bees of her past: “To me, ownership and private property were the beginning of the end in this country. Once the Europeans came in, drawing lines and dividing things up, things started getting exploited and overconsumed. But a park takes away the whole issue of ownership. It's off the table; we all own it and we all share it. It's so democratic.’”
Faced with growing opposition to her “gift” of imposing a Federal Wilderness in Maine despite her marketing attempts to repackage it as “for the economy”, Quimby revealed in a September 2011 MPBN interview that if she can't get Congressional approval, which is required for establishment of new National Parks, she has a backup plan. Her “Plan B”, she said, is to donate the land to the Federal government with the arrangement that President Obama would unilaterally designate it as a wilderness National Monument in order to bypass democratic processes in both Maine and Congress.
Quimby has close ties with the Obama administration and with the National Park Service in particular; she was appointed by Obama to the National Park Foundation, which was created by Congress using Rockerfeller funding to promote the National Park Service. Quimby says she prefers the National Park Service as a “brand”, which remains her “Plan A”, but a National Monument could be held as wilderness by any of a number of Federal agencies and later transfered to NPS or simply left as Wilderness. Quimby's son Lucas St. Clair threatened in the New York Times in January 2014, “It's often a knock-down, drag-out fight to create a park, and sometimes it takes 30 years.”
Executive decrees of National Monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act, originally passed to preserve small ancient historic sites emphasizing Indian artifacts in the southwest, have frequently been employed to bypass Congress in establishing large wilderness areas. The largest National Monument is currently a 2.2 million acre portion of the Tsongas National Forest in Alaska where viro pressure groups have for decades sought to stop timber harvesting.
Both the National Park Service and the US Fish & Wildlife Service have been employed to take private propety in Maine, and both those agencies and the US Forest Service have collaborated with pressure groups to plan and agitate for both acquisition and Greenline land use prohibitions under Federal law. After the National Park Plan for Washington County failed by 1991, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust tried to use USFWS for massive acquisition, and did succeed in expanding the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge through land takings. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the US Forest Service Northern Lands Study and the susequent 4-state Northern Forest Lands Council disrupted people's live for years across four states until the agenda was mostly stopped, at least for awhile.
Controversial National Monument designations bypassing democratic processes are typically imposed in the waning lame duck days of a President's term of office along with the controversial "pardons". Obama has a reputation of not being hesitant to use his “pen”.Clinton's 1996 designation of the 1.7 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah has been unsuccessfully fought in the courts for over a decade.March 25, 2014 Restoring Maine authority to prevent transfer of land and jurisiction to the Federal government
A 2014 bill before the Maine legislature would block Quimby's Plan B and similar plans from bypassing democratic processes by restoring state sovereignty over ceding land and jurisdiction within its borders to the Federal government. It would apply in general to all Quimby-like machinations by organizations that have been accumulating property in large areas that the pressure group activists have politically targeted for government acquisition for decades as they threaten inholders and others in and near targeted areas with Federal acquisition and loss of access and infrastructure.
LD1828 would amend Maine's blanket Sec. 1. 1 MRSA §15 approval of transfers of land and state jurisdiction to the Federal government to require state legislative review and specific approval for transfers larger than a reasonable threshold of 5 acres, more than enough for routine Federal buildings. (The bill's original limit of 5 square miles was an error.) Larger transfers would be subject to specific state legislature approval for Federal acquisition.
Pressure group lobbyists, including the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Quimby supporters who spoke at the hearing, are actively trying to block reform. They try to spread fear and confusion over what they call “unintended consequences” to induce legislators to do as they are told by the pressure group lobbyists. Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Audubon, and Natural Resources Council of Maine, all of whom have tried to get massive Federal acquisition of private property and whose lobbyists attended the March 26 committee work sesssion on the bill, do not want their power in collaboration with government agencies limited in any way.
The bill was postponed in a divided report by the committee in a partisan 8-3 vote until January 15, 2015, pending answers to questions put to the AG and avoiding controversy until after the election. The bill is expected, however, to be brought up on the floor of the House and Senate in this session on the basis of the committee minority report. The bill currently specifies a threshold of 40 acres.
Hearings on LD1828 limiting land transfers to the Federal government without specific state legislative approval:
Greenlining means that preservationists draw a line around an area and impose government social controls so that the people inside don't have the same rights as those outside. Greenline parks contain a mixture of government land, quasi-government land trusts, and private property subject to strict land use prohibitions enforced by an autocratic government agency. The restrictions range from scenery police mandating to homeowners what color they can paint their home – to heavy restrictions on cutting vegetation – to prohibitions on roads, motorized vehicles, or building a home or business at all – to eliminating most private economic activity.
In the late 1980s the viro pressure groups began an active campaign to Greenline 26 million acres of private property across rural Maine (2/3 the state), northern New Hampshire and Vermont, and New York state to the Adirondacks. The viros explicitly modeled the scheme after previous Greenline parks such as the Columbia Gorge (OR & WA) and the Adirondacks (NY) where the people have been stripped of their property rights under a system of social controls severly restricting land use and economic activity. This Greenlining is part of their agenda to designate several huge new National Parks that would outright eliminate all private property inside them, with Greenline controls over the remaining private property in between. The Greenline portion, especially, was promoted in the U.S. Forest Service's 1989 Northern Forests Land Study under Federal legislation on behalf of the viros. There have been several subsequent attempts at Federal legislation to further the Greenlining process, including Sen. Leahy's (D-VT) Northern Forest Stewardship Act, which were defeated only after major battles. More attempts to impose a Federally sponsored Greenline on Maine can be expected.
There have been several attempts by viro pressure groups and activists inside state government to redefine Maine's Land Use Regulatory Commission – LURC – as a Greenline agency to take over private property in Maine. Every periodic update of the LURC Comprehensive Plan since the 1980s has incrementally imposed increasing controls intended to further this agenda.
Here are some articles on the 2008 LURC Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) calling for bureacratic control imposing more limitations on development and more restrictions of land use to “primitive recreation”, both intended to strangle the economy in anticipation of full Greenlining:
A major ingredient in the orchestration of a government takeover of vast regions of private property through acquistion is money – lot's of it. Since 1965 the annual congressional appropriations of hundreds of millions per year through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) have been the primary source of money used to take over private property for government parks and preserves.
Environmentalists are promoting legislation to establish a $3 billion/year off-budget entitlement called the “Conservation and Reinvestment Act” (CARA) – also called the “Condemnation and Relocation Act” – which is mostly dedicated to or available for acquisition, but also for subsidizing viro groups for promotion and lobbying. The off-budget guarantee of a large increase in perpetual funding is intended to accelerate the conversion of private property to government ownership, trampling and eliminating the rights of private owners on a massive scale. A large portion of the funding is intended to target Maine.
The following articles covered CARA when it was previously before Congress in 2000. This monster came close to passing in 2001 and was re-introduced as H.R. 4100 as the “Get Outdoors Act of 2004” (the bill text is at the Thomas web site (search on bill number HR4100). It remains a major goal of the Big Park lobby, which is waiting for the politically opportune moment to spring it again.
Average property taxes in Maine are among the highest in the country and property taxes are far worse where market values of land along the coast increase out of proportion with other property. The state policy of arbitrarily imposing escalating costs of government through an inequitable, annually recurring asset tax based (only) on real estate value is punishing more and more land and home owners, sometimes forcing them off their own property. This phenomenon is progressing up the coast and increasingly threatens downeast property owners.
As one viro activist put it in the late 1980's, if landowners won't sell then “tax the hell out of them”. Property tax policy has in principle much in common with taking private property by eminent domain in the name of the so–called “public good” (note that the rights of the victim are not considered to be part of the “public good”).
Last Update: 12/22/14