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August 11, 2022

Improved access to Katahdin Woods and Waters monument sought by King, Collins

Federal legislation introduced Wednesday aims to improve visitor access to Katahdin Woods and Waters, a national monument in northern Penobscot County, and support more tourist activity in the region.

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act was cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine. King is chair of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee.

The bill would authorize the expansion of the monument by giving the National Park Service permission to acquire land that better connects the monument to the Millinocket region and to major roadways.

The bill also includes provisions to allow the NPS to acquire buildings for monument administration and visitor services outside of park boundaries. 

Courtesy / U.S. Department of the Interior
The hatched portion shows the proposed boundary expansion to the monument’s south.

All expansions would occur with the cooperation of willing landowners, would protect traditional hunting, fishing and snowmobile usage on the acquired property. The bill also forbids expansion through eminent domain.

 “The expansions the bill authorizes would allow for a smoother entry into the park, bring visitors closer to the heart of the Millinocket community, and further expand the Katahdin region’s tourism economy,” King said in a news release. 

The bill would facilitate the creation of a second entrance, making it easier for visitors to explore the monument more easily from the south, said Collins.

“The Katahdin Chamber of Commerce supports the bipartisan KWW Access Bill as it creates additional access to the monument in order that all communities in the Katahdin region can benefit from enhanced economic opportunities,” said Tom Shafer, president of the board of the Katahdin Chamber of Commerce.

Jamie Brundrett, owner of the Katahdin General Store, said he’s seen increased foot traffic in the region over the last five years. 

“Although many factors have contributed, the designation of the national monument and the increasing support of the monument from the local communities certainly has to be high on the list,” he said. “With the ability to create greater access to the monument through willing landowners, I believe my business will continue to see additional incremental growth.” 

King said he hopes to hold a hearing on the legislation later this year and welcomes feedback from the community about how the measure can be improved as it moves through the legislative process.

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