Be aware of ecological inter-connectedness

To the editor,

It looks like the battle to preserve wildlife in Kennebunk is underway once again. Walsh Engineering is proposing a housing development called The Mooring at the former Rest Area on Route 1 south. This is the site of Significant Vernal Pool No. 539, a dual-pool noted by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and documented by Kennebunk resident John S. White in 2009.

The site should not be commercially developed. The frogs and salamanders there are essential foodstuff for migratory birds. The proposed access road is too close to the pool setbacks as defined by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and, additionally, the proposed access road is close to the Shoreland Protection Zone 209.

Any development that takes place in, on, over, or adjacent to a significant wildlife habitat requires approval from MDEP according to the Natural Resources Protection Act. MDEP states “no activity that would degrade the significant wildlife habitat, disturb the subject wildlife, or affect the use of wildlife habitat, either during or as a result of the activity, is permitted.”

Let’s be clear. The standards of the Natural Resources Protection Act will not be met. The department considers the area of significant wildlife habitat, including areas beyond the physical boundaries of the project, as well as cumulative effects of frequent minor alterations of habitat. The developer’s concept includes two culverts to be used by wildlife. Yeah. Right. Wood frogs to the left, please. Salamanders to the right.

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Tracking studies of amphibians show they can travel over a third of a mile from their breeding pool, and that a radius of 750 feet around the pool is minimally optimal. The surrounding uplands provide an essential part of the pool’s habitat. Paving roads, casting sidewalks, and installing streetlights is not congruent with MDEP and Natural Resources Protection Act constraints.

More than ever, let’s be aware of ecological inter-connectedness. The need to preserve this pool site should take precedence over a commercial development, regardless of any tax incentives for the town.

Alex Mendelsohn

Kennebunk

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