Letter to editor: Turkel article makes it clear that plan will not alter public lands

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Tux Turkel’s article (October 17) examines the central issue in a recent Superior Court case ruling the lease of public lands from the Bureau of Public Lands to Central Maine Power invalid. Although the decision is on appeal and therefore not final, the case is being debated by opponents of New England Clean Energy Connect. Turkel clearly articulates the key question of the case: “Would another transmission line cutting the lots in half result in ‘substantial change’ in these so-called public reserved lands?”

The leased land is nine tenths of a mile long and 300 feet wide (32 acres); The limitations of the Department of Environmental Protection only allow the use of half of this area (16 acres). The combined public parcels represent 1,241 acres. The color-coded map accompanying Turkel’s article answers his question; it shows miles and miles of existing power lines and logging roads in the 1,241 acre parcel. Still more kilometers of power lines, logging roads and ATV trails exist on the private forest lands immediately adjacent.

Additionally, Turkel notes that these public plots are not among “Maine’s best recreational gems”; he called them “lesser-known exploitations”. He also notes that 1,200 of the 1,241 publicly owned acres are “valuable” woodlots; it has been harvested for decades. It is not a virgin forest.

In short, the Turkel article and accompanying map make it clear that a slight increase in an existing use (within the 1,241 acre parcel) will not “substantially alter” these lands owned by. the state. In addition, a lease does not “reduce” the amount of Crown land. The constitutional requirements of Maine law are not violated.

Orlando delogu
Portland


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