LURC Task Force Recommendations Threaten North Woods’ Future

Media Contacts
Alexandra Fields

Environment Maine

AUGUSTA — Today, Department of Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley will present the findings of the LURC Reform Commission to the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. The task force’s report will recommend that the Legislature alter and significantly weaken LURC, rolling back 40 years of protections for the North Woods. 

“Generations of Mainers have learned to love the outdoors in Maine’s North Woods,” said Alexandra Fields, Preservation Associate with Environment Maine. “These recommendations – from a task force that was rigged from the start – endanger Maine’s natural heritage and threaten to change the places we love forever.”

The panel’s report, released to the public in mid-December, recommends that the Legislature significantly alter the makeup of the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC), the group tasked with protecting Maine’s North Woods from reckless development. The recommendation would put the majority of the seats on the commission in the hands of county commissioners, despite the substantial conflict of interest, and allow the elected officials to appoint themselves or a designee to the board. No other Maine State regulatory board has members elected by local constituencies. In addition, there would be no legislative oversight for the commissioners’ appointments, and there would be no requirement for appointees to have any expertise in conservation, planning, wildlife, or forestry. 

“Maine’s North Woods is the largest unbroken forest east of the Mississippi and an asset for all Mainers,” said Fields. “Protecting it requires a statewide vision, one that is undercut by giving elected county officials a majority on the commission.”

Additionally, the report suggests giving counties the ability to “drop out” of LURC after three years. The proposal would effectively eliminate LURC over time, stripping away critical protections, creating inconsistency across the counties, and making enforcement more difficult. 

In addition, the recommendations include other rollbacks, such as the transfer of many of LURC’s permitting responsibilities to the counties and DEP, the delegation of planning responsibilities to regional entities, and the elimination of the requirement that applicants demonstrate the need for their project. 

“We strongly urge lawmakers to reject the roll backs in the report, which threaten Maine’s Woods as we know it,” concluded Fields.

The task force, comprised of 7 of 13 members who had testified publicly in favor of abolishing LURC before being named to the panel, met six times this fall in Bangor and northern Maine. Commisioner Beardsley will report to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry at 2 PM today. 


Environment Maine is a statewide, citizen-based advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit