A New National Monument


Early morning haze colors from Mount Katahdin and its surrounding mountains. All images from: npr.org

Just in time for the U.S. National Park system centennial, a total of 87,500 acres of mountains, forests and water were donated yesterday by the co-founder of Burt’s Bees, Roxanne Quimby, and then declared a national monument. President Obama announced the creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, a land that used to feed paper mills and is now permanently protected from lumber extraction. The monument will be managed by the National Park Service and allow recreation while protecting resources.

The designation of the woods as protected territory has been in the works for years — and has been controversial among locals, who worried about federal oversight of lands that used to be central to the regional economy.

“For generations, Maine’s North Woods have provided pulp for the state’s paper mills and created plenty of good jobs in an area with little other economic activity. But now the paper industry is struggling and a mill job is no longer a guarantee. …

“Quimby used her newfound fortune to buy up land in Maine’s North Woods from downsizing paper companies. Some local residents see her as a villain for closing off her land to hunting and snowmobiling — activities the paper companies have long allowed — and for taking it out of timber production.”


There were fierce debates over the merits of giving the land to the National Park Service — some saw it as a source of tourist income for the region, others as federal oversight.

Opposition continued up until the declaration of the monument on Wednesday.

“Some locals, including Maine’s timber industry, and the Sportsman’s Alliance object to federal control of the land, and Maine’s congressional delegation refused to back legislation to make the area a national park,” NPR’s Scott Horsley reports.

“President Obama instead used his executive authority to create the monument,” Scott says. “The White House notes that Maine’s popular Acadia National Park was created in a similar fashion, a century ago.”

Read the full article here.

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