by Renee Cordes
MaineBiz news story
A day after the start of the 60-day comment period on President Trump’s executive order calling for a review of national monuments created since 1996, three members of Maine’s congressional delegation joined with local business leaders in voicing opposition to overturning the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Three of Maine’s four members of Congress, three state legislators representing the Katahdin region and local elected officials from Millinocket, East Millinocket, Patten, Medway and Sherman all oppose rescinding Katahdin’s national monument status.
Voices in the business community are also growing stronger. Representatives of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, along with local business owners and others, voiced their concerns during a news conference Friday morning at Epic Sports in downtown Bangor.
“We are outraged that the Trump Administration is creating this cloud of uncertainty over our National Monument, particularly chasing away investments,” said Gail Fanjoy, president of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, in a press release.
She added: “Since the designation of the monument, we have observed real economic benefits in our communities as people come to visit our area for the first time. Businesses are expanding, new investments are being made, real estate prices are starting to rise, and visitors are filling up restaurants and beds. There is new hope and energy in a region desperate for both. The governor and the Trump Administration should stop this misguided effort.”
Deb Neuman, president and CEO of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, also cited from that group’s letter stating that its board “opposes efforts to overturn the proclamation that established the national monument as that would undermine the expectations that have become settled in the region.”
During the press conference, she shared the letter the Katahdin Area Chamber sent to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources.
Other comments contained in Friday’s press release put out by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, along with letters from both chamber of commerce and Katahdin area elected representatives and business leaders.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine: “I believe that any effort to rescind the designation at this point would be a mistake.”
U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine: “I believe this review is unnecessary and only reignites controversy in a region that was beginning to heal and move forward.”
1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine: “It would be terrible for President Trump to undermine the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument by attempting to overturn President Obama’s designation – an authority (Trump) very likely does not have in the first place. It would strike a blow to a region of our state that is already seeing an economic boost from the new monument.”
State Rep. Stephen Stanley, D-Medway: “I was opposed to the National Monument before it was created, but at this point, I think we need to move forward, not backward.”
Jesse Dumais, Millinocket Town Councilor: “I was not initially supportive of the National Monument but now I am convinced that it is good for our region.”
Dumais released a letter signed by 19 Katahdin Region elected officials opposed to overturning the national monument.
From the business community, John Ellis of Ellis’s Market in Patten and East Millinocket, also admitted that he had voted for Gov. LePage and previously opposed the monument but now says he supports it.
“To my knowledge,” Ellis said, “Gov. LePage has never even set foot in Patten and yet he insults our region by calling it a ‘mosquito area.’ … Gov. LePage’s and the Trump administration’s actions will hurt the economy of our region. They should stop this effort to roll back the monument and let us move forward.”