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Currently Targeting... Plum Creek, Maine Development, Easter Island

Plum Creek, Maine Development, Easter Island

News in the LA Times about Plum Creek… one of those large private (aka, publicly traded) land-holding companies who, along with environmental land trusts like the Nature Conservancy and other large-scale environmental organizations, find themselves mutually stuck in the process of trying to negotiate the complex landscape of profit/loss, private development management vs. environmental land use, etc… ie, how to balance economic benefits in local communities with development pressures and environmental health. Topics like this are only going to get more complicated as time goes on, and particularly as the economy begins to pick up again.

Apparently, the new news is, Plum Creek been proposing to build a huge luxury development around the Moosehead Lake area for awhile, and were finally given the go-ahead by a Maine state regulatory commission: Large-scale development for Maine’s Moosehead Lake region given final OK by state regulators.

Interestingly enough for you stargazers out there, as you can see from this map, its development is smack in the center of what is currently the largest area absent of light pollution east of the Mississippi:

“Prominently dark are the Great North Woods of Maine…” [sky and telescope article]…

Someone even built a cool google map overlay of the light pollution here… Moosehead Lake area is somewhere up in the black glob in the upper right (not exactly sure where)… see Jshine Light Pollution Map.


Plum Creek’s recent credit upgrade from underperforming to neutral via Forbes, (sept 11 2009) states: “The analyst also said that Plum Creek’s ability to sell non-strategic forest land should support its $1.68 dividend.”

This is a pretty common discussion point you hear about in Urban Sprawl debates, part of the trend of large land-holding companies looking to sell of different parts of their holdings for different uses than they have historically. A little research shows they sold off a good chunk to another luxury developer that Jared Diamond mentioned in his book Collapse, wherein he talked about a very similar situation in the 1990s in Montana. This has led to a series of things that are just too complicated for any single brain to wrap its humble mind around. for instance:


In the early 1990s, the Nature Conservancy negotiated to buy Plum Creek Timber’s Gallatin-area checkerboard land for $25 million, and billionaire and Montana landowner Ted Turner had pledged to contribute $10 million toward this effort. In January 1992, Plum Creek suspended negotiations with the Nature Conservancy, saying that the proposed deal was “unlikely to meet Plum Creek’s dual objectives of maintaining jobs at our Belgrade sawmill and preserving the environmental quality of our lands.” In April, 139,000 acres and the mill were sold instead to Big Sky Lumber (BSL) for $24 million. Plum Creek said BSL had committed to maintaining jobs at the mill, and following through on Plum Creek’s already-planned Porcupine and Gallatin land exchanges with the U.S. Forest Service. [link]

Leads to This:

Yellowstone Club, a “private recreation community” on 13,000 acres at Pioneer Mountain near Big Sky, Montana. Here’s how one news story described the Yellowstone Club’s membership set-up: “The cheapest means of entry is the purchase of one of the 100 national memberships, which go for $250,000 plus $16,000 in annual fees. People who want to own an abode on the mountain must dig much deeper. There are 900-square-foot suites for $500,000. They have no kitchens, but there is valet parking and maid service with fresh sheets every day. Then there is 3,500-square-foot duplex for $1.2 million to $1.8 million. Vaulted ceilings, decks, marble, ski in and ski out. Log homes are in the same price range. People who want a few acres around their homes should be prepared to spend up to $5 million. How much they spend on the house is up to them. In all, Blixseth anticipates 864 dwellings and lots, offered at a total well over $1.5 billion… ‘What we’re selling is privacy and exclusivity,’ Blixseth said. ‘And limited growth.'” [link]

Lead to This:

The Chapter 7 petition was filed Sunday on behalf of four creditors, who total are claiming $4.65 million in refunds for deposits in Yellowstone Club World, which when launched boasted assets like the Chateau de Farcheville in France and a private golf club near the famous St. Andrews golf course in Scotland. Owner Tim Blixseth had imagined the club as having up to 150 members who would pay initiation fees of up to $10 million to rove as they wished to properties Tim Blixseth has bought across the globe. But, it never got off the ground and when it ceased operations last year, there were only a handful of members, most of them Yellowstone Club members who had “upgraded” to Yellowstone Club World. [link]

Leads to This:

The land is part of a checkerboarded mix that once belonged to Plum Creek Timber Co. Last year, the company agreed to sell 310,000 acres of its forest holdings to The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Lands in a three-phase deal known as the Legacy Project. [link]

And the rise of a new breed of logging environmentalists:

“I can understand why people who treasure a place would be upset to see it logged,” said Chris Bryant, outreach director for The Nature Conservancy. “But it’s not a question of what Elk Rock will look like in 10 years. It’s not the first time it’s been logged. We should be asking: What is the potential for the landscape in 20, 30, even 50 years? This is not a project for short-term thinkers. [link]

Which all leads to: ???

The book Collapse by Jared Diamond framed a lot of his studies of disappeared societies on the very similar events of the 1990s in Montana:

When Diamond first visited Montana 50 years ago, it was one of the most prosperous and environmentally pristine states in the U.S. Today, it’s one of the poorest, with a grim environmental outlook. Global warming, leach mining, tourism, and libertarian values knock heads in a particularly violent way under the Big Sky. From dairy owners and politicians to mine workers and militia members to wealthy Californians who daytrip to Montana in their private jets, Diamond describes a community of such diverse and conflicting interests that miracles are more likely to solve its problems than any kind of compromise. [link]

VIdeo of him talking about Montana, Land Developers, and Easter Island. Makes one think.

From the Seattle Times :

Seattle-based Plum Creek Timber restructured itself as a real-estate investment trust in 1999. Since then it has become a giant of the forest. President and CEO Rick Holley says that growth wouldn’t have happened if Plum Creek hadn’t become a REIT. The company now is the country’s largest private landowner, with 8 million acres of timberland in 18 states. Since 1999 its revenues and assets have more than tripled. Its stock price has climbed 56 percent since it first announced its planned REIT conversion 10 years ago, far outpacing the major indexes. [link]

September 23, 2009
Tax: » Climate Change, Earths
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