Green Land Grab Turns Maine into Battleground

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Journalists us “Fuzzy” science in covering environmental debate.

I’m often asked how a reporter could have written a story one way and not another. “They had all the facts,” the person says, “but they sure didn’t understand them.”

Journalism is about connecting the dots. The concept of “connect-the-dots journalism” is easy if you recall the connect-the-dots coloring books you may have had as a child.

Instead of pictures, the coloring books had pages with numbered dots. The dots made no sense until you added the lines and connected the dots. The dots were numbered, and the lines had to be drawn in sequential order to the correct points or the picture would come out wrong. Dots connected incorrectly yielded something unrecognizable.

In journalism, facts are like dots, and the connecting lines are the interpretation and presentation of the facts. We can all think of news stories or editorials that connected the dots in a way that seemed credible to the reporter or the editors, but in reality it revealed an unrecognizable picture. If you saw the news reports in the Eastern establishment newspapers about this year’s Western forest fires, or if you ever bother with popular news accounts about global warming, you have seen such stories.

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Facts, you see, don’t really speak for themselves. What is “all the news that’s fit to print?” Someone decides which stories to write and which facts to use when reporting those stories.

What happens when you don’t have enough dots to make a picture? You add a few dots in the right places. It can be creatively stimulating to play with facts.

What if we simply disregarded the dots and drew the picture we really wanted to see? Considering the federal government’s environmental policies of the past eight years, this is fairly common.

Dots can be connected in a sensible way. Thanks to wise use and property rights advocates in Maine, we can connect the dots of an ongoing story about a group called RESTORE: The North Woods. This group is trying to convince the people of Maine that they should give up 3.2 million acres of private property for a new national park.

But the 3.2 million acres they want in Maine is only a small part of what RESTORE is really after. According to previously published reports, in 1990, Michael Kellett and Brock Evans spoke to a Massachusetts audience about a 26 million acre proposed Northern Forest. This forest would gobble up private land in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

This would mean another 26 million acres of federally owned, federally mismanaged land. (After all, why should the West have all the forest fires?)

Kellett told the audience it would be public land, and it would have to be taken away from current owners. Evans said, “You have lots of strong urban centers where support comes from. We should get all of it. Be unreasonable. You can do it.”

Those are the dots. Here’s the connection: Brock Evans and Michael Kellett are on the board of directors of RESTORE. Michael Kellett is also RESTORE’s executive director.

It may seem that what Evans and Kellett said 10 years ago in 1990 is not relevant anymore. That would be a mistake. They apparently are willing to stick with their program for decades if necessary to accomplish their agenda.

Several factors make Maine a battleground state. Fifty percent of the U.S. population lives in the Eastern Time Zone. A huge number of these reside between Washington, D.C. and Boston.

People in these urban areas tend to view the country’s forests as green oases surrounded by a vast desert of concrete, when actually the opposite is true.

Because the Northeast is heavily populated, it stands to reason that many who support the green political agenda reside in the Northeast. Many of these supporters have a religious-like fervor for “wilderness.” They wish to remake a wilderness that never existed — using OPL (Other People’s Land).

Maine is fairly accessible to the Northeast populace. Even people as far south as the nation’s capital can reach southern Maine in a long day’s drive.

Maine is mostly rural and therefore has less national political clout. It’s a lovely summertime playground for elitists.

And Maine is full of politically handy environmental targets, such as the soon-to-be-declared-endangered Atlantic salmon, logging and paper mills. For scare tactics, you can’t do much better than threatened salmon runs and clear-cuts.

For RESTORE, federalizing the North Woods is the goal. “Federalizing” is a softer word for depriving landowners of their property, even if they are not “willing sellers.” It means the property is off local tax rolls. In today’s politically correct climate it means no roads, no hunting, no fishing and no logging.

RESTORE’s agenda really seems to be to cleanse rural Maine of the people whose families have lived their for generations and who have provided Americans with paper products and lumber to build their homes. All you can conclude is that RESTORE and its allies hate private property, at least when it’s OPL.

When you connect the dots, you get the picture. It’s a scary picture.

As one Mainer says, “Usually when you have a bad idea that people reject, you go away. But not these guys.”

(Editor’s Note: Rich Jefferson may be contacted via e-mail at