Dec 12, 2008

Keep Sears Island free from Joint Privatizing Plan

Thanks to the canniness and courage of our Legislature's transportation committee, Maine has a breathing space to reexamine her relationship with Sears Island.

we are going to be respectful to Sears Island - to the memory and remnants of its 10 millenia of human occupation; to those treading her old paths and beaches today; to the quiet brackish nurseries edging its western shores, whence fish & shellfish larvae and juveniles grow, then ride the Penobscot River's ghost current down bay to the ecological engines of outer Penobscot Bay, where naural wild Maine Herself has been at pains to recolonize Sears Island for over a century now; if we are to treat teh island with the dignity and respect it deserves....

Then MDOT's grip on Sears Island needs to be loosened, and this public island's management put into the abler hands of Maine's public land and park managers in the Department of Conservation.

We'll examine, below, the Dept of Conservation statutes that are relevant to transferring Sears Island from MDOT to Maine Department of Conservation

It appears that Sears Island will fit nicely into the Public Reserved Lands division of Maine Dept of Conservation. The laws governing such lands include a guarantee that the state be able to ensure transportation access rights to the land, SHOULD NEED ARISE. But not to let successive governors continue to try to peddle the island to passing investor speculators.

NOR (and this is important) nor should the Sierra Club and others try to build their own entertainment and education and entertainment complex on Sears Island. Their buildings, with the inevitable roads, parking lots and visiting fees, will further fragment the island's ecological reservoir and destroy more of the island's 10,000 year archaeological record

There, Sears Island will continue carrying out its roles as natural recreational area and coastal Maine ecological reservoir, yet be available as needed should calamity fall and Maine require a port there. Further, this state-owned public land island should not be encumbered with a perpetual conservation easement, and the state saddled with the related legal obligations and ramifications and responsibilities such a perpetual easement requires , perpetually.

So, let's consider how Sears Island might fit into the Public Reserved Lands division of Maine Dept of Conservation to take over Sears Island, using the Dept of Conservation statutes that are relevant to transferring Sears Island from MDOT to BPL jurisdiction. For every statute there's a rule or regulation, and we'll look at them in a future post.

MRSA 12 §1815. Transfer lands to another agency; receive lands from another agency.

"The bureau [of Parks and Lands] may accept the care, custody, control and responsibility for the management of lands to be classified as state parks or historic sites from other state agencies with the written consent of the transferor agency, the Governor and the commissioner. Nothing in this section or section 1814 may be construed to negate or affect obligations of the State undertaken in any existing lease, easement or other binding agreement or obligation of the State undertaken by the acceptance of any deed or other grant of an interest in real property."

MRSA 12 §1850. Acquisition of public reserved land

1. Authority to acquire lands. With the consent of the Governor and the commissioner, the bureau may acquire lands or interests in lands on behalf of the State to be managed as public reserved lands.

When acquiring land or interest in land, the bureau shall examine options for obtaining public vehicular access rights to the land. If an acquisition is made that does not include guaranteed public vehicular access, the bureau shall describe the acquisition in its annual report submitted pursuant to section 1853 and the justification for that acquisition.

MRSA 12 §1852. Transfer or lease of public reserved lands

1. Transfer of management responsibility to other state agencies. Whenever a particular portion of the public reserved lands is to be used, under the management plan under section 1847, subsection 2, for a dominant use that is within the particular expertise of another agency of the State, the commissioner, with the consent of the Governor and the state agency involved, may transfer to that other state agency the responsibility for the management of that particular portion of the public reserved lands.

"MRSA 12 §1847. Management of public reserved lands

"1. Purpose. The Legislature declares that it is in the public interest and for the general benefit of the people of this State that title, possession and the responsibility for the management of the public reserved lands be vested and established in the bureau acting on behalf of the people of the State, that the public reserved lands be managed under the principles of multiple use to produce a sustained yield of products and services by the use of prudent business practices and the principles of sound planning and that the public reserved lands be managed to demonstrate exemplary land management practices, including silvicultural, wildlife and recreation management practices, as a demonstration of state policies governing management of forested and related types of lands."


Keeping Sears Island completely under public control must be non-negotiable - no crazy-quilt management of private land trusts, astroturf grassroots groups and whichever port developers try to run the green gauntlet.

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