Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Community Planning (MCP)


Community Planning and Area Development


This research project describes and explains the 1996 and 1997 Maine forestry practices referenda, which came about amid heightened concern about threats to Maine's large tracts of privately owned forestlands, part of a larger area known as the Northern Forest. It explores the factors influencing how people cast their votes in the two referenda and the ties between these factors and the spatial patterns of the votes.

This research shows that in addition to concern for the environment, economic considerations of individuals were an important factor with regard to how people cast their votes. Attempts to influence voter opinion by the different sides in this issue with media messages also played an important, although hard to quantify role in the ultimate defeat of any changes to existing forestry practices regulations. Analysis of voting patterns suggests an important role for grassroots environmental and property rights groups in influencing the outcome of these referenda.

The ballot questions put before Maine voters are of particular importance in deciding the future of the Northern Forest, an important economic, recreational and ecological resource that the proposed changes to forestry practices regulations would have affected. This resource stretches into several neighboring states who may use this research to gauge citizen reaction to changes in forestry regulations.



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