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August 25, 2016

The day after: The response to the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Courtesy / Jeff Pidot, National Resources Council of Maine An additional view of the east branch of the Penobscot River from within a section of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument during the fall.
Courtesy / Mark Picard, National 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.

After 15 years of public and political debate, Burt’s Bees co-founder and philanthropist Roxanne Quimby’s dream finally became a reality as President Barack Obama signed into law the establishment of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on Wednesday.

The response to the establishment of the national monument in the North Woods was swift, and just as divisive as the lead-up to the president’s ruling.

State leaders respond

Gov. Paul LePage: “President Obama is once again taking unilateral action against the will of the people, this time the citizens of rural Maine. The Legislature passed a resolution opposing a National Monument in the North Woods, members of Maine’s Congressional delegation opposed it and local citizens voted against it repeatedly.

Despite this lack of support, the Quimby family used high-paid lobbyists in Washington, D.C., to go around the people of Maine and have President Obama use his authority to designate this area a National Monument. This once again demonstrates that rich, out-of-state liberals can force their unpopular agenda on the Maine people against their will.”

U.S. Sen. Angus King: “It is critical to see this as an opportunity fully compatible with our existing forest products industry, including potential growth in woods-related businesses. This isn’t either-or, it’s both — and will provide much-needed diversity to the region’s economy."

"For some, this designation is welcome, while others will meet it with skepticism or outright opposition — but for all of us it is a change, and change is always hard. That is why I think it is important that we respect both the excitement as well as the concerns that will follow this announcement. And it is why I will continue to work with people on both sides of this issue and the Park Service to ensure that the day-to-day implementation of the monument plan lives up to its promise.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins: “While I recognize that the president has the legal authority to designate national monuments, I believe he should not have used his executive authority given the objection lodged by the Maine Legislature, the lack of consensus among Mainers who live in the area, and the absence of congressional approval. Bypassing Congress and taking this action without the support of the state and the local communities circumvented discussions of alternatives such as the creation of a national recreation area or management by the Forest Service — proposals that might have had broader support than the president unilaterally designating a national monument.

This monument designation gives rise to a host of questions ranging from simple logistical matters to fundamental questions such as what will the impact be on taxpayers and whether the National Park Service, with its nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog, can afford to manage this new federal acquisition. While the Quimby family's promise of a $40 million endowment is generous, it is difficult to see how that amount can possibly cover the startup and ongoing costs of the monument area.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree: “This is an exciting and historic day for Maine. The creation of a new national monument will bring economic development to the area and benefit all of Maine. It will bring millions of visitors to this beautiful and special part of our state, and at the same time preserve traditional uses like hunting and snowmobiling.

The American people owe a debt of gratitude to Roxanne Quimby for this incredible act of generosity. She worked hard to build a great company from the ground up, and the first thing she did when she sold it was to figure out how to give back to the people of Maine by donating this land. Generations of Americans will benefit from her gift.”

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin: “As Maine’s representative in Congress for the 2nd District, I joined Sens. Collins and King in sending a letter to President Obama last November expressing reservations about the unilateral decision to designate a national monument in our State. We jointly raised concerns about the idea and urged the president to listen to local voices. Several communities most impacted by such a plan voted in non-binding referendums on the proposal in the Katahdin Region and in every instance the people voted in large numbers to oppose the concept. Additionally, the Maine Legislature passed a bipartisan resolution to officially oppose the idea as well.

While opposed to a unilateral decision, ignoring the votes in the local towns, the Maine Legislature and Congress, I will continue to work with everyone to move this project forward in the right way in order to build a stronger economy that creates more and better paying jobs in the Katahdin Region and in Maine.”

Local response on designation

Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, Executive Director Dana Doran: “While we are disappointed with the decision to proceed with establishment of a national monument in the Katahdin Region, we will focus our efforts on ensuring that this decision does not cost jobs in Maine’s logging industry. Maine loggers need reliable and safe access to the area’s working forests and the PLC will work closely with our Congressional delegation, the communities surrounding the proposed monument and the National Park Service to address the very real access and road safety issues this monument creates.”

Environment Maine, Director Laura Dorle: “The monument protects Maine’s remote North Woods, east of Mount Katahdin, our state’s highest peak. With dense forest, roaming bears and moose, the threatened Canada lynx, and streams and lakes throughout nearly 88,000 acres of land donated from the Quimby family, the new Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument will provide plenty of opportunities for camping, hunting, fishing, boating and more — and help create hundreds of jobs to boot.”

Appalachian Mountain Club, Senior Vice President Walter Graff: “This is an historic day for Maine. The expertise of the National Park Service in building trails and other recreational infrastructure, and helping people learn about spectacular outdoor places, creates an incredible opportunity for conservation, recreation, and new nature-based tourism jobs in the region.”

Natural Resources Council of Maine, Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann: “What a great gift this would be to the people of Maine and to the nation. This land contains a stunningly beautiful collection of mountains, forests, waters and wildlife. And a national monument would provide badly needed economic benefits to the Katahdin region.”

Read more

Post-hike reflections on Katahdin region's economy

Disappointment over federal response to North Woods project

New program to boost Maine Woods tourism businesses

It's official: Obama designates north woods national monument

President designates marine national monument off New England

Maine starts its multimillion dollar moose-hunting season

Rebranding a mill town: National monument creates fresh hope for Millinocket region

National monument kickstarts Katahdin Region’s rebuilding

Tall Timbers Trust purchases 290,000 acres of Northern Maine forest

Could Trump reverse the Katahdin Woods and Waters monument?

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