Millinocket, ME —Trail Master Phillip LeBoeuf of the Red River Ryders ALL Terrain Vehicle (ATV) club of Winterville has been charged with unlawful cutting of trees on privately owned land in the Town of Eagle Lake, according to information released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Last fall, local landowners found more than 150 trees had been cut in the proposed trail corridor without their knowledge or permission. Property owners filed a complaint with the Maine Forest Service. After investigation, rangers charged Mr. LaBoeuf with unlawful logging and summoned him to appear at the Fort Kent District Court on November 19, 2004. At that arraignment, Mr. LaBoeuf denied the charges. A court date has been set for 10 A.M. on January 7, 2005.
Documents obtained by Maine PEER show that on December 2, 2002 Winterville Plantation's First Assessor James Nadeau (now a Commissioner for the Land Use Regulation Commission) applied for a grant to construct up to twenty miles of ATV and snowmobile trails in the area of Winterville Plantation. The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and administered by the state Department of Conservation
In the grant application, Mr. Nadeau stated that he would be a project manager and that, as the Plantation's First Assessor, would be responsible for administrating the project. On July 3, 2003, the Department of Conservation approved a grant up to $25,000 for the Red River Ryders ATV Trail project for Winterville.
"While it is Mr. LaBoeuf who is charged with a civil offense, it is clear that Mr. Nadeau, as the grant recipient, bears some responsibility for violations of the federal and state project agreement," stated Maine PEER Director Tim Caverly, noting that from 1999 to 2002, Nadeau was involved in four separate violations of state land use standards. "This is one more example of Mr. Nadeau's inability to ensure that laws are followed in projects under his direct control."
If the logging violation is sustained in court, it is not clear what effect it will have on continued funding for the trail project.
"A LURC Commissioner is supposed to respect private property and make sure that the laws are evenly enforced but the opposite appears to be case here," Caverly added. "Nadeau should resign from his position of municipal leader and from his post as LURC Commissioner."