Olympia calls the $80,000-per-fish plan for Maine a ‘Christmas Gift’

If you do the math on that Atlantic Salmon Plan which the Governor and  the Congressional Delegation and the militant environmental groups  were raving about last Christmas, you might ask yourself, “Am  I living in a state…or a boutique? Is this Maine or Neiman  Marcus?” Because if you take the $1.2 King pledged for the  project, add the $11.4 of federal money, plus the $3.7 from industry,  it adds up to $16.3 million. Divide that by the 200 Atlantic  Salmon left in the targeted rivers and you’ll get approximately $80,000 per fish.

At the  same time, if water levels get low, industry has just been told  it can take a hike as far as being able to river dip for irrigation  purposes, because salmon have become a priority. And if this Salmon Plan follows in the footsteps of Oregon’s Salmon Plan,  then our woods industry could be in danger. (See reprint of the  article from Oregonians in Action newsletter).

Where is common sense in all this?

The Oregon  Plan is a salmon restoration plan enacted by the Oregon Legislature  to show the federal government that it wasn’t necessary to list  the Coho salmon under the Endangered Species Act because the  state was serious about doing it itself. It is a nearly-1,300  page document which was promoted as “cooperative” and  “incentive” based and which would add no new regulations. The Oregon Legislature appropriated $30 million to implement  it and the forest industry offered to tax itself $14 million  to help pay for the plan. Only Oregon and Maine have taken this  route, so it’s important to watch what’s going on with the Oregon  Plan because how that develops may have meaning for Maine.

“It is the feds’ plan anyway.”

The Maine  Atlantic Salmon Conservation Plan was developed for the same  reason as Oregon’sto avoid listing the salmon under the  Endangered Species Act. Already we see the effects. The Bangor  Daily News reported in a front page story on March 27th that  if “Forced to choose between the irrigation practices of  Maine’s large blueberry growers and Maine’s commitment to protect Atlantic salmon, a state panel (the Land & Water Resources  Council) decided farmers will take a back seat to the salmon  in three Washington County Rivers.” A critic of the plan,  Bob Hinton, president of the Denny’s River Sportsman’s Club,  whose group had opposed the listing said “The state came  up with a conservation plan and submitted it to the federal government.  The federal government said this and that needed to be changed.  The state has gone along with everything the federal government  has said, so literally it is the feds’ plan anyway.” (BDN  Dec. 16, 1997)

Maine’s  Governor King “pledged $1.2 million to protect the 200 fish  which come back to the seven Maine rivers each year.

The Maine  troubles began when Restore: The North Woods, an environmental  group based in Concord, Massachusetts, petitioned the federal  government to get the Atlantic salmon listed under the ESA. Maine’s  Governor King “pledged $1.2 million to protect the 200 fish  which come back to the seven Maine rivers each yearFederal  agencies have pledged an additional $11.4 million to the effort  and industry will spend $3.7 million “, according to the BDN, Dec. 16, 1997.

“We thank you for the Christmas gift you have given the state,”  said Sen. Olympia Snowe.

The Congressional  delegation was thrilled that the feds had endorsed the state  plan. “We thank you for the Christmas gift you have given  the state”, said Sen. Olympia Snowe. Let’s hope when it’s  unwrapped, it doesn’t turn out to be another bureaucratic game  of “Mother, May I?”, as it looks like it is turning  out to be in Oregon. Do you suppose Senator Snowe would return  it for our refund if we don’t like it? Because if all we get  for paying $80,000 per fish is more rules to make us miserable  and puts our natural resource-based businesses in jeopardy, what  kind of “present” is that?

If you think there’s something  “fishy” about Maine’s Salmon Plan, maybe you’re right!  Is this what’s in store for Maine?
New forest practice rules and a federal proposal would effect all Oregonians
by Bill Moshofsky, President,
Oregonians in Action Legal Center
(reprinted from Looking  Forward, March/April 1998)

Proposed new Oregon Forest Practice Rules

Contrary to representations from  backers of the Oregon Salmon Plan approved by the 1997 Legislature  that it would not result in new regulations on private land,  the Oregon Board of Forestry is already under heavy pressure  from the National Marine Fisheries Service to adopt much more  restrictive regulations on private forest land.

Here are just a few examples  of new regulations being proposed:

  1. New restrictions on harvesting  private timber on millions of acres by:
  2. Widening stream “channels”  from annual high water marks to the 100 year flood plain line.  This would mean stream widths could vary from yards to miles.  Harvesting would likely be off limits for the full width;
  3. Measuring “Riparian Management  Zones” (RMZs) along streams from the flood plain line, and  nearly doubling the width of current RMZs. Virtually all timber  harvesting would be outlawed in RMZs in perpetuity;
  4. Establishing new definitions  of “streams”, thereby greatly increasing areas where  harvesting is prohibited.
  5. New procedural requirements,  such as tripling the area subject to requirements for written  plans for forest activities in the vicinity of streams.
  6. New limits and constraints on  temporary and permanent roads on forest lands, including road  decommissioning, and burdensome procedural requirements.
  7. The threat of even more restrictions  – the National Marine Fisheries Service recommendations are “interim”  pending completion of “watershed analysis.”

Some forest experts estimate  the proposed regulations could result in landowners losing 50%  of the value of their land to provide stream protection. Even Governor Kitzhaber indicated that  the NMFS proposal “would result in a reduction of  timber harvests on private forest lands in western Oregon of  between 40 and 80 percent, with many landowners being out of  business entirely” (emphasis added).

If landowners are lucky, they  might be able to recover “compensation” for total taking  of the use and value of their land As pointed out by Oregonian  editorial writer David Reinhard on February 25th, Oregon taxpayers could end up with huge liabilities for imposing  such regulations.

Unfortunately for landowners, the regulation writers may be able to write the regulations in ways to avoid compensation payments, leaving landowners stuck with huge uncompensated losses (emphasis added).

Such drastic measures have other  disturbing consequences. More forest products processing plants  will shut down or cut back. More people will lose their jobs. Many rural communities will suffer. There will be less tax revenues  for schools and other services.

Massive new Federal proposals to protect fish.

More recently, the National Marine  Fisheries Service announced a far more sweeping program. It expands  “protection” to include 13 populations of salmon and  steelhead throughout nearly half the state of Oregon. The program  would impose further prohibitions on forest harvesting and management,  and, according to a report in the Oregonian February 27th,  “would touch the lives of everyone from city dwellers to  farmers in Oregon’s most heavily settled and intensely farmed  region” as more and more rules would be adopted to tightly  control farm practices, limit development, and control water  run-off from lawns.

All such rules and regulations  are emanating from non-elected public bureaucracies at the state  and federal level. Neither the Congress nor the state legislature  are involved, other than to grant to the bureaucracies nearly  unbridled power to make such rules and regulations – rules and  regulations that have the force and effect of laws enacted by  elected representatives.

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