Millinocket. . .The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is threatened by increasing political pressure to develop, and rangers are being hampered from enforcing environmental rules, according to a report released today by Maine Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Maine PEER).
The report, titled ''Losing Paradise: The Allagash Wilderness Waterway Under Attack,'' written by current and former Waterway employees, details how politics have influenced the way America's only state-run wilderness has been managed over the past three decades. Created by a state referendum in 1966, the Waterway was meant to be managed for its wilderness values, but in recent years the Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) has shifted the management focus toward the notion of "balanced" development within the waterway. The Bureau's plans for balance include:
*constructing parking lots and new bridges for increased motorized access;
*increasing development along the Waterway, including permanent structures and, in one case, a sporting camp with a hot tub;
*promoting a laissez-faire attitude toward timber companies adjacent to the Waterway.
Employees of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway have been discouraged from doing routine water quality monitoring or even from enforcing environmental rules, including power watercraft prohibitions, group size caps and habitat disruption. Conscientious employees who continue to enforce these rules have been met with systematic retaliation from BPL managers.
In a unique partnership with local outfitting companies, Losing Paradise will be distributed, free of charge, to outdoor enthusiasts who canoe the Allagash this summer.
"We want to shine a spotlight on the politically-motivated mismanagement of the waterway," explained Maine PEER Director Tim Caverly. "We can't allow Maine's wilderness to become the sacrificial lamb for politicians and their back-room deals."