Maine Compact for Maine's Forests Carry-over, Question 1 (1997)

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The Compact for Maine's Forests statewide ballot proposition, appearing as Question 1, was on the November 4, 1997 election ballot in Maine. It was defeated, with 47.4% of voters in favor.

Question 1 was a legislatively-referred state statute, voted onto the ballot by the Maine legislature.

Election results

Question 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No182,36852.56%
Yes 164,574 47.44%

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:

Do you want the Compact for Maine's Forests to become law to promote sustainable forest management practices throughout the state?

This proposed legislation was approved by the Legislature in 1996 as a competing measure to a citizen initiative entitled "An Act to Promote Forest Rehabilitation and Eliminate Clearcutting."At the 1996 election, this competing measure received a greater number of votes than either the citizen initiative or the option to reject both measures. However, the competing measure did not receive a majority of the vote, which was necessary to approve the competing measure. It did receive more than one-third of the vote, and thus, under the terms of the Maine Constitution, is required to be submitted by itself to the voters for their approval or rejection at the next statewide election.

The proposed legislation would direct the Commissioner of Conservation to adopt statewide rules governing timber harvesting in Maine and would establish a voluntary audit program, whereby landowners would attempt to achieve certain benchmarks of forest sustainability and biodiversity on their lands, thereby potentially qualifying for an exemption from the Commissioner's rules. The rules would be provisionally adopted by the Commissioner and subsequently reviewed by the Legislature.

The proposed legislation also would require landowners to get a permit-by-rule from the Commissioner before doing any clearcutting. To get a permit, a landowner would have to certify that the clearcutting was justified by sound forestry management practices. There would be certain exemptions to this permit requirement. Clearcutting with a permit would be subject to certain limits on size, nearness to other clearcuts and total area for each ownership. The Commissioner would also be required to adopt rules regarding forest regeneration after a timber harvest. The proposed legislation also would permit municipalities to adopt timber harvesting ordinances that are stricter than the State's rules. Municipalities would be subject to certain limits on their actions and would be required to notify landowners and the Commissioner before adopting ordinances stricter than the State's rules.

In addition, the proposed legislation would provide for the establishment of an ecological forest reserve system for the protection of certain state-owned lands from timber harvesting. It would also direct the Governor, upon receipt of a report from the Maine Forest Service, to submit to the Legislature a proposal to restrict excessive timber harvesting on lands held for less than 10 years. Finally, the proposed legislation would direct the Maine Forest Service to provide for increased environmental education on forestry issues for the general public.

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