The next spotted owl

Dear Editor:

I wrote this letter to lawmakers in 1997 and it still rings true today.

I am Dudley Gray of L.A. Gray Company in Hancock. We are a local hardware and building materials dealer founded in 1927. We employ approximately 35 persons and we depend on the economic health of Hancock and Washington counties to sustain our existence, growth and continuing vitality as a business enterprise. The fishing industry and the lobster fishery in particular are vitally important to our survival.

Ladies and gentlemen of the lobster industry, I must warn you that the right whale is the spotted owl of your industry. Even though the proposed gear regulations are ostensibly aimed at protecting an endangered species, the right whale is only a surrogate for the actual target, the lobster and those of us who struggle to make a living in this state.

Compare what happened to the lumber mills in the west as those enterprises and their people battled the radical environmentalists. Small sawmills went out of business, entire towns and their working families were decimated economically and socially. All this was done in the name of the Endangered Species Act to save some owls who allegedly lived only in old growth forests. Subsequently, scientific discovery revealed that the owl’s habitat included new growth as well as old growth forests. Do you see the parallel?

Major public corporations now sell lumber at prices significantly higher than before the event took place and only the spotted owl survives.

Please mark my words, folks, it is the lobster that is the real target. After you have been put out of business, live lobster will go to 10 or even 15 dollars a pound. You will be working for a major corporation’s fleet of boats, for subsistence wages and you won’t be able to afford to eat your catch.

The time for appeals and negotiations have ended. Demand that our elected representatives de-authorize the Endangered Species Act. Now is the time. As part of the imminent reauthorization there are proposals to give economic interests and private property rights more consideration. Demand that our economic interest become priority otherwise. We the people will become not only endangered, but extinct!

Dudley Gray

Rangeley Plantation

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