Tux Turkel’s article (Oct. 17) examines the central question in a recently decided Superior Court case holding invalid the Bureau of Public Lands’ lease of public land to Central Maine Power. Though the decision is on appeal and thus not final, the case is being ballyhooed by opponents of New England Clean Energy Connect. Turkel states the key question in the case clearly: “Would another transmission line bisecting the lots result in a ‘substantial change’ to these so-called public reserved lands?”

The leased land is nine-tenths of a mile long and 300 feet wide (32 acres); Department of Environmental Protection limitations allow only half of this area to be utilized (16 acres). The combined public parcels are 1,241 acres. The color-coded map accompanying Turkel’s article answers the question he posed; it shows miles and miles of existing power lines and woods roads within the 1,241-acre parcel. Still more miles of power lines, woods roads and ATV trails exist on immediately adjacent private forest land.

Further, Turkel notes that these public parcels are not among “Maine’s top recreational gems”; he characterized them as “lesser-known holdings.” He also notes that 1,200 acres of the 1,241 owned by the public is “valuable” woodland; it has been harvested for decades. It is not pristine forest land.

In short, Turkel’s article and accompanying map make clear that a slight increase of an existing use (within the 1,241-acre parcel) will not “substantially alter” these state-owned lands. Moreover, a lease does not “reduce” the quantum of state-owned land. The constitutional requirements of Maine law are not violated.

Orlando Delogu

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