by Dan Bustard
The overwhelming vote Saturday by members of POST - Property Owners Standing Together - to keep their land posted met with acceptance from Gov. Howard Dean on Monday.
"It's their land, and it is their right," said Dean before groundbreaking ceremonies on the new state office building in Newport.
But the governor did say it would be a "big mistake" for POST to raise money out of state and work with national property rights groups in their efforts to overturn the heavy cutting law or oust state legislators who support the new law.
"Using out-of-state money to influence politics, working with right wing property rights groups, is generally not accepted too well here in Vermont," Dean said.
POST members debated opening their land at Saturday's meeting, attempting to mitigate the potential troubles for hunters, snowmobilers and others. The 113-24 vote showed clear support for the original mandate of the group, keeping private lands posted until the heavy cutting law is repealed.
POST has around 1,000 members across the state and thousands of acres posted, and a political action committee may be established to ensure their voice is heard in Montpelier.
Donations from other states have already come in. POST President Ken Davis has said he contacted the American States Legal Foundation in Denver, who specializes in property rights issues, according to an Associated Press report.
Dean said it may be "kind of tough" for snowmobilers and sportsmen, but POST members are within their rights. "I met with them, and I personally like them as people. We had a meeting, and basically they were not interested in working with me. The door's still open, as far as I am concerned," the governor said.
POST is looking ahead to the next elections, while Dean said he could sup~ port increasing the limit up to 70 acres as part of the law. "Forty acres, 70 acres, you can argue the reasonableness. This complaint (about clearcutting) started in the Northeast Kingdom, with concerns over 500- and 1,000-acre clearcuts. (The law) was not an outsider situation. It did not come from Chittenden County. And the response around here has not been all negative, I assure you," he said.
Dean said that if a poll were taken in the NEK, "I bet you would find a lot of support" for the law.