Earth Notes: U.S. losing 40 acres per hour


By Bob Casimiro

Guest Columnist

I wish to thank Sally Chappell for permitting me to be a guest columnist for Earth Notes. I wanted the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made to the column by Ken Roy, who recently relocated to South Carolina.

Ken and Diane put their 73-acre property in Center Lovell into conservation easement several years ago. Having the property in conservation easement made it more difficult to sell, but now they have the satisfaction of leaving behind a significant legacy in Maine where they lived for several decades, after having met and married earlier while residents of Alaska.

Although I am a city boy and apartment dweller, Ken and I shared the same sentiments on the environment and immigration, and we see overpopulation, primarily from unfettered migration, as a significant contributor to the degradation of our environment.

Ken accompanied me on my 2007 trip to the border to participate in border watch activities with the Minutemen. On the way to Arizona we stopped along the road to take a picture of Ken giving an emphatic thumbs down at a location where some farmland had been taken over by a very large housing development.

The November 2017 letter from American Farmland Trust reports “our country is still losing more than 40 acres of farmland and ranch-land every hour of every day.”

On one of my trips to Arizona, I took a day off to visit Catalina State Park north of Tucson, and just when I was coming out of the urban, commercial, six- and eight-lane highway area and could spot the desert and a two lane road ahead — bang — they had put in a brand new intersection, paving the way for further expansion and development further out into the desert.

There is no need for this. Eighty-eight percent of our population growth, according to the Pew Research Center, is by migrants, legal and illegal, and the children they have. Sensible, restrained immigration policies need to be put in place but that, unfortunately, is a daunting task, considering the commercial and development forces that crave untrammeled growth, with more concern for the bottom line than the future sustainability and security of our nation.

Closer to home, an article in the Lewiston Sun Journal on Sept. 20, 2017 — New England losing land to development — relates that “New England has been losing forestland at a rate of 65 acres per day.” This was determined by satellite imagery, and the loss of land is given for each of the New England states, with Massachusetts at the highest with an annual loss of 7,000 acres, and Maine second with an annual loss of forest land at 6,100 acres.

On the conservation side, they cite a reduction in the amount of land put under conservation from “330,000 acres per year in the early 2000s to about 50,000 acres per year since 2010.” As a final note they state: “After 150 years of reclaiming forest land, all six states are again losing open space.”

Fortunately, this is not the case locally as Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) continues to add acreage, the most recent being the Raymond Community Forest, and the recently announced donation of 93 acres on Highland Lake.

As a member and supporter to LELT, I can attest to the high level of stewardship of the lands under their protection. Several years ago, while LELT was still managing Pondicherry Park, I took a walk through the park the day after a storm. A tree had fallen across the path and someone had already been there to cut it away. As I was exiting the park, I stopped to talk to Jon Evans, LELT Stewardship Manager, and two visitors who were at the Willett Road kiosk. I remarked to Jon that someone had already been clearing the trail. He said, “That was me.”

‘Nuf said. Support your local environmental groups.

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