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July 7, 2017

Public comment tally for Zinke's review? 99.9% support Katahdin national monument

Courtesy / Jeff Pidot, Natural Resources Council of Maine
Courtesy / Jeff Pidot, Natural Resources Council of Maine
A view of the east branch of the Penobscot River from within a section of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument during the fall. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is visiting the monument Wednesday as part of his review of 27 national monuments nationwide that was ordered by President Trump earlier this year.

A tally of comments submitted to Washington on the Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument shows nearly unanimous support, according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Of the 192,052 comments submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior submitted as of 11:59 p.m. July 4 that specifically mention "Katahdin," 191,976, or 99.96%, support the monument, according to the NRCM.

NRCM released the results at a Bangor press conference Friday morning with a graphic showing a 60-foot-tall paper stack of positive comments. For its analysis, NRCM staffers opened up and reviewed each comment submitted online at www.regulations.gov between May 11 and July 4 that specifically mentions Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

By contrast, only 67 (0.03%) of comments oppose the monument, while nine (0.01%) supported protecting the land through a designation other than a monument.

"The public comments amount to a nearly unanimous endorsement of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument," Lisa Pohlmann, NRCM's executive director, said in a statement. "There is no way to read these comments and reach any conclusion other than that public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders was exhaustive."

She added: "The public overwhelmingly sees Katahdin Woods and Waters as a positive development for Maine and the nation. They see this as a settled matter and do not want the monument taken away or rescinded in any fashion."

The full-court press from the NRCM comes as the U.S. Department of Interior reviews the future status of Katahdin Woods and Water, which was designated a national monument in August 2016 by President Obama.

Katahdin is one of 27 national monuments around the country whose designations are being reviewed in accordance with President Donald Trump's April 26 executive order.

The review applies to national monuments established by U.S. presidents since 1996 covering more than 100,000 acres, or where it is determined that "the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders."

Included on the list are Utah's Bears Ears, California's Giant Sequoia and Arizona's Grand Canyon-Parashant national monuments.

During a visit to Katahdin in June, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke expressed appreciation for its natural beauty and signaled a willingness to give it national park status.

Zinke has until the end of August to report back to the president with his recommendations.

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Sampling of comments supporting Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

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