Plum Creek is afraid of you

People power
By DAVE BRADY  |  December 19, 2007
ACTING OUT: Protestors stage a skit outside the hearing.

Trust: Plum Creek wants yours, but you certainly don’t have theirs. The company that wants us to put the future of one of our most treasured areas into their ravenous little hands is outright afraid of the public.

Before the hundreds of supporters and critics could say at Saturday's Land Use Regulation Commission hearing what they thought of Plum Creek's controversial plans for massive developments in the Moosehead Lake region (see "Up Plum Creek Without A Paddle," by Yanni Peary, November 30), they had to clear security at Portland's Holiday Inn by the Bay.

Bags were checked for weapons, food, and drinks. Bottled water wasn't allowed. An octogenarian was made to chug his small cup of joe before being allowed into the all-day affair.

The considerable security presence included not only Portland police and hotel security, but also Plum Creek’s plainclothes Mickey Mouse troupe. I had the pleasure of having my bag searched by both a cop and a mouser. In general, the cops didn’t look too happy to be there, but the Plum Creek guy aggressively rifled through my stuff.

“Any weapons?” No. “You got a knife?” Um, wouldn’t that be a weapon? I mean, no. No. Will I need one?

THREE CLOVES OF GARLIC AND AN EGG: Confiscated items from the Plum Creek hearing.

Perhaps they were still worried about that vandalism back in 2005, or about activists making movies in broad daylight (see "Anti-activist Bill Backed By Collins, Allen, and Michaud," by Jeff Inglis, November 16). Or maybe they just wanted to avoid demonstrations, like what happened during the lunch break: a group of concerned citizens expressed their opinion Mary Katherine Gallagher-style, with a skit. Outside, on the sidewalk, in 15-degree weather. Scenery, props, costumes, and all.

The skit made a very good point. The big bad Plum Creek Company (played very twirly-moustachioed by two of the performers) originally bought the land in question for just $200 per acre, because it was zoned for forestry. If LURC accepts Plum Creek’s proposal, the Seattle-based company stands to sell it for substantially more. The potential impact this precedent may have on the rest of the state is alarming.

If the effect it had on the skit’s scenery is any indication, the results will be drastic. The sublime forest was decimated. Trees were uprooted, replaced with telephone poles and cellphone towers. Nature lovers were supplanted by pompous golfers. Moosehead Lake (portrayed by a woman wearing a papier-maché moose head straight out of a Rob Zombie flick) was hacked to death with a chainsaw.

Ouch. If more than five people saw it, it would have been powerful. No wonder Plum Creek was afraid of it.

But they might want to be nervous about others, too. As I was leaving, I heard one man tell another that Plum Creek aren’t bad people, they’re just misguided. “But we can fix that,” he said. “I heard electric shock therapy helps.”

LURC will hold its next and last public hearing on this issue in Greenville, the gateway to Moosehead Lake, on January 19.

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