By Erin Thomas, Fox 22 staff reporter
Fox22 news story
BANGOR – Hundreds of businesses from Central and Northern Maine announcing their support today for a proposed national park and national recreation area in the Katahdin region.
More than 200 businesses from the Greater Katahdin and Bangor Region are supporting the creation of a national park and recreation area on 150,000 acres of land, East of Baxter State Park.
Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. would donate the land, as well as a $40-million endowment to pay for operations and maintenance costs. The group is now sending letters to Maine’s Congressional Delegation for support. Outlining that the park would create up to a thousand jobs, strengthening the local economy. They say it would protect access for sportsmen, and continue to allow for timber harvests, exempt from clean air act regulations, using the wood to build park facilities.
A letter to Senator Angus King writes “This is not a debate about timber versus recreation, both have been and will continue to be critical to the region’s future. What’s needed, however, is a fresh dialogue that squarely addresses the long-term social and economic challenges facing these communities…”
Earlier this week, Bangor City Council voted in favor of a resolution supporting this concept, as part of a broad economic diversification strategy. Those on board say the proposal, which has seen heavy opposition, has been amended several times to keep the interest of those living in the Katahdin region, a priority. Those against the project fear it would bring federal authority into Maine, put tighter air quality restrictions on the state forest products industry, and only create low-paying jobs. Proponents now await response from Maine’s delegation.