By Diana George Chapin
Maine’s vast northern and downeast forestland is viewed by some as the last wilderness frontier in the country. With large areas preserved in perpetuity by state and federal possession, an increasing amount of acreage is being conserved through easements and controlled by private non-profit, board-of-directors-governed corporate land trusts.
In an announcement in May of this year, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Forest Society of Maine (FSM) and Plum Creek unveiled the acquisition of one of the largest conservation easements in U.S. history. A press release from The Nature Conservancy at the time of the announcement stated: “The 363,000-acre easement, which will be held by the Forest Society of Maine, will permit recreation, including hunting, fishing, hiking and snowmobiling on set trails; as well as forestry that meets the standards of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and other conservation guidelines.”
The sizable easement connects over 2 million acres of conservation-easement-controlled land and includes some land donated by Plum Creek. Additional acreage covered by the conservation easement was purchased by The Nature Conservancy, using funds raised as part of its ongoing $100 million “Sustainable Maine, Sustainable Planet” campaign, as well as some funds raised by the Forest Society of Maine.
From his office in Bangor, Alan Hutchinson serves as executive director of FMS. On a cool day in spring, before the public announcement TNC made from Portland, he pulled out a series of maps called the “Human Footprint Project.” He displayed them across a table in his office, explaining that the red areas of the map indicated the greatest human activity; the pink areas denoted lesser interactions; the yellow for minimal activity; and the green for virtually undisturbed areas.
Using data gathered from eastern Canadian provinces and northeastern states, Hutchinson said the maps were crafted with information on types of roads, road density and permeability of the road surface, housing density and types of housing. Map developers examined the amounts and locations of land in agricultural production, as well as measures of how intense the conversion of native, natural lands has been to agricultural production.
Map source: http://programs.wcs.org/canada/MapGallery/tabid/2560/Default.aspx
“They melded it all together, state to state and province to province, and they made this map,” said Hutchinson, pointing to the document that effectively describes activities independent of international boundaries. “We fell in love with it.”
“It’s a wonderful piece of work that was done a few years ago,” he said. “Some of the work was done by some people at the University of Maine and with a consortium of environmental conservation groups that were looking at particularly the northeast—the northern Appalachia eco-region, trying to get a handle on where the large blocks of unbroken forestlands still are that haven’t had much an impact yet from human development.”
The maps can help environmentalists, land and animal habitat preservationists and conservationists define areas for acquisition.
“They’re trying to figure out where could you expect to maybe maintain things like viable populations of Canada lynx or wolves—the large northern forest predators—for example, pine martin, things of that sort. Where are these blocks, and are there ways they can be still connected to some of these big blocks to maintain travel corridors and critical mass of those sites,” he said.
Hutchinson said he would like the map to look the same 100 years from now. “At this stage it’s just data; there’s no agenda assigned to it,” he said.
But Dr. Michael Coffman begs to differ.
For decades Coffman, through his work with Environmental Perspectives in Bangor, has sought to educate people across the globe about the United Nations’ “Agenda 21.” The UN describes the Agenda as “a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, governments and major groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.”
Coffman recently published a new book, entitled “Plundered: How Progressive Ideology is Destroying America,” in which he describes how Agenda 21 and other geopolitical goals are destroying property rights and free market enterprise in America.
“Most Americans have never heard of Agenda 21, even though there are over 3 million pages about Agenda 21 on the web,” Coffman said. “Yet most planners and environmentalists are keenly aware of it. They will claim they are not implementing Agenda 21, however. They are technically correct. They are technically implementing ‘Sustainable America’.”
“The United Nations Agenda 21 is a 40-chapter document signed by President Bush in 1992 during the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro,” Coffman said. “Ostensibly a plan to reorganize man’s activities to live in harmony with nature, in reality it is a radical plan to reorganize man around the central organizing principle of nature. It impacts every aspect of human activity.
“In 1993 President Clinton convened the President’s Council on Sustainable Development to fulfill the U.S.’s commitment to Agenda 21,” Coffman said. “In 1996 that goal was fulfilled with the publication of ‘Sustainable America’, a radical plan to control all development and use of natural resources. Seven sub-documents of Sustainable America were published that redirect the mission statements of every federal agency. Every federal grant was linked to Sustainable America. The mission for federal agencies shifted from helping the American people to protecting the environment from the American people.”
Coffman reports that transportation dollars were shifted from building highways to building extremely expensive alternative mass transportation, like light rail and high-speed rail. The same was true of shifting from fossil fuels to extremely expensive alternative fuels. Rigid and very expensive comprehensive planning called “Smart Growth” became the “in” thing for cities and communities to do because huge federal grants were available.
“A key component of protecting biodiversity was to set huge areas of land aside for nature,” Coffman said. “These are essentially de facto wilderness areas interconnected with wilderness corridors. The United Nations Global Biodiversity Assessment, the heart of Agenda 21 to protect biodiversity, calls for nearly a half of the nation to be put into these reserves and corridors. The federal government cooperated with states to implement the GAP program that uses geographic information layering to define where ecological sensitive areas needed protection.”
Coffman says whether or not they know it, land trusts play a key role in implementing Agenda 21.
“Realizing that the government could never buy enough land to cover up to 50 percent of the landscaped allegedly needed to protect biodiversity, the Environmental Grantmakers Association (made up of about 140 major U.S. foundations in 1992—over 200 today) created a huge program in 1992 to create and fund land trusts to buy conservation easements that eliminate any development and begin to impose land-use restrictions,” he explains. “Maine became the state with the largest conservation easement in the U.S. when Pingree Associates put 760,000 acres under an easement with 45 land trusts led by the New England Forestry Foundation in 2001. Both the State of Maine and the federal government contributed $5 million for the easement.”
While FSM and environmental groups claim conservation and economy building can go hand in hand, the language they use to describe directing human settlements along existing transportation corridors is the language of “Smart Growth,” “Sustainable Development” and, in turn, Agenda 21.
“You can see the road network,” Hutchinson said, pointing to the Human Footprint Project map. “Our hope is that growth will occur primarily along these threads where you already have development. Over time, through various mechanisms and means, these big blocks and areas connecting these big blocks can stay undeveloped while growth occurs elsewhere, and communities can prosper from both growth along these threads, but then prosper from having some credible natural resource base.”
By “mechanisms and means,” Hutchinson is referring to encumbering land held by private landowners with conservation easements that ensure no development in perpetuity.
“As a land trust, the one that we are ready to deliver—and are good at—is conservation easements,” Hutchinson said. “When a landowner is bumping into some kind of a struggle, I think easements have proven that they can provide an incredibly valuable piece of the puzzle.”
Coffman couldn’t disagree more.
“Recent global research has clearly shown that wealth cannot be created without private property rights,” he said. “Conservation easements gut property rights, and the systematic tightening of environmental regulations may take what is left. Land withdrawal creates scarcity, which always increases cost.
“While we need to practice conservation, the preservation mentality behind Agenda 21 strips property owners of the range of land management practices needed to prosper and protect the environment,” Coffman said.
In an event open to the public, Rosa Koire, author of “Behind the Green Mask: UN Agenda 21,” will be speaking) on Monday, August 13 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. in Waldoboro at the First Baptist Church at 7 Grace Avenue (just north of Moody’s Dinner on Route 1).
Diana George Chapin is a freelance writer and a fourth-generation family farmer from Montville, Maine.
This is part of an ongoing series about Maine Land Trusts – Read all articles here.
There has been a large and growing group here in the mid-coast area who have been exposing this effort to transfer large tracts of land from the owners to the ‘non-profit’ organizations as part of Agenda 21– the global project that has been implemented incrementally for the past 20 years. This summer was a worldwide gathering called “RIO+20” which detailed the progress made and how much more they plan to accomplish– in the pretext of “social justice” and combating “climate change”– which includes usurping property rights, education, healthcare, energy usage and more…
Agenda 21 is sponsored by George Soros. Enough said.
As I have said before on this forum, when land is removed from development (forest service, too), it creates a scarcity, and the
price of land goes through the roof.
Those who already own some land will make out much better than those who are purchasing land, if they can, as it relates to Agenda 21.
I will purchase the book as above-mentioned by Dr. Michael Coffman.
McCarthyism all over again. Red baiting with 21. Got it.
Why on earth would America want to throw its lot in with the rest of the world which can’t get out of its own way?!
Progressives have been sneakily pushing for world government for a century or more in the guise of having “world peace.” Ha.
Human behavior never changes. The powerful want more power–power rarely filters down to us peons,and I’m not talking of class envy–and the rest of us be damned. Three out of four posters (sorry,Vertcal,you’re in LEFT field) have their heads screwed on straight,thank God.
There is nothing about the UN that we as Americans should be conforming to.
This is a non-partisan, non-political issue; it’s about private property rights
being usurped by, and the surrender of sovereignty to, programs devised by globalists & Communists at the UN. Do the research yourself by Googling Agenda 21, Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Sustainable Development, Brownfields, Gateway One, Atlantic Coast Greenway, etc. etc.
Here in Montgomery Co outside Phila, our Montco Land Trust joined up with the Natural Lands Trust and this scenario sounds exactly like what they do. Many residents who like lack of development which is usually unslightly or commercial really love open space, and these actions are promoted as adding to property values. Humm. I can see that is also ends progress in the area. We also have farms set aside too, which I pray do not eventually become government owned farmed land. People are strapped, but the not for profit conservation orgs are not?
To call this agenda for land use prohibitions a “global plan” from the UN is to reverse cause and effect and confuse the source of both the power and the ideology behind it. The environmentalist movement is international in scope and has a common agenda, but it consists of and relies on activist organizations, academics, funding, and the coercive power of governments within specific countries and their own laws, mainly right here in the US.
UN documents are not the source of the problem and the UN is not the source of the power; both are echoes of largely American viro activists whose anti-private property agenda as a political threat dates back at least to the 1970s with the rise of the “ecology movement” (later changed to “environmentalists”) out of the violent New Left of the 1960s and 70s. Their attempt to promote an agenda at an “Earth Summit” in the 1990s does not mean that the UN is the source of the threat and the power behind it.
The wave of mass condemnations of private property owners in the 1970s came from American viro preservationist organizations like the Sierra Club and from the National Park Service and its private lobby, not the UN. The attempt to legislate national greenline land use prohibitions during the Carter administration came from them, not the UN.
The “National Park System Plan” in the 1980s for the National Park Service to take over a hundred million more acres of private property across the country, including over 7 million acres in Maine, was hatched in Washington DC, not the UN. The agenda, including the plan to eliminate the forest products industry, private property rights, a private economy and locally accountable self government in Maine, was concocted by NPS and its private lobby NPCA, and activist organizations like the Wilderness Society, Audubon, the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
The agenda beginning in the mid 1980s to “greenline” 26 million acres sweeping from the coast of Maine to the Adirondacks in NY — which tore Maine and the rural parts of the other states apart for years — came from the consortium of activist viro pressure group organizations in Maine and the other states, not the UN. When Audubon VP (and Restore Board member) Brock Evans egged op viro leaders at a leadership conference at Tufts University in 1990 to “take it all” — meaning all 26 million acres in Federal ownership — he was not operating under a UN plan.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust, not the UN, had the contract with the National Park Service in the mid 1980s for surveillance of downeast Maine and recommending means of taking over the private property. Maine Coast Heritage Trust started in the late 1960s with Rockefeller money and an official from Acadia National Park, not the UN, to promote and execute the transfer of private property to the National Park Service. MCHT, not the UN, is the power center for money and political strategy for the network of satellite land trusts across the state. MCHT, not the UN, was instrumental in starting the national Land Trust Alliance.
The Nature Conservancy and MCHT, not the UN, promoted turning the region extending from Acadia far into Canada into an International Biosophere Reserve. That program in the US operates nominally under the US State Department, delegated to the National Park Service exploiting its own authority, not the UN.
Maps and other documents dividing the US into ‘eco-regions’ (“physiographic provinces”) without regard to political jurisdiction, let alone private property, have been commonplace in National Park Service planning, strategy, and targeting for decades. It didn’t come from ‘agenda 21’ and the UN.
The rise of local and state land use controls and prohibitions on private property that have progressively been imposed in Maine (and elsewhere) over the last several decades came from local, state, and national viro organizations and planners using state power to control land, not the UN. It was the Nature Conservancy, not the UN, that began in the 1970s inserting and training personnel into state agencies across the nation for targeted forced preservationism through land use controls.
Of course the viros would like to ultimately have international controls enforcing their agenda, but that is not the source of their power nor the source of the problem. They would like nothing better than for their victims to go running off the field of battle where the real action is, instead tilting at windmills over a UN central plan, where they can be dismissed as black helicopter conspiracy theorists, which helps the viros further evade accountability for what they are initiating and imposing.
Everyone is searching for some unifying principles to consolidate an understanding of what is being done to us, but it is more complex and widespread (and more realistic) than a UN central plan. There is no substitute for identifying the actual source of the agendas and the power in the movement that is destroying private property rights and us along with them, and fighting it everywhere it is found.
Since my post a month ago I have learned of a terrific website dedicated to exposing Agenda -21. It is freedomadvocates.org. I also recently bought stanley Kurtz’ new book Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. O’s plan (hatched years ago in Chicago) is to “corral” the suburbs’ revenues by various coercive means,such as grants that come with the caveat of sending tax revenues to the inner cities. The book is also about O’s” Regionalism” plans. All that means is deterring building in the rual areas which O and his minions call “sprawl”. Aim–get the population into managable ,small areas. Reminds me of The Hunger Games! I say that not to demean the seriousness of the problem.
Then find out all you can, then fight it!
ewv says:” The environmentalist movement is international in scope and has a common agenda, but it consists of and relies on activist organizations, academics, funding, and the coercive power of governments within specific countries and their own laws, mainly right here in the US. ”
This in a nutshell is agenda 21-that is the kicker-you pay! But, it is initially introduced to your area by a representative-Sustainable growth is most common buzz word, and a host of others.
Some know what is being done, most do not. Agenda 21 was always denied, for decades. Now it is touted, on headings of laws and bills with in states. Iin Mn it is, anyway. Texas, it is denied-working from the same playbook-literally the same book from ICLEI.