by Mary Kuhlman
Public News Service news story
AUGUSTA, Maine – From Maine to California, hundreds of small businesses are speaking up on behalf of some of the country’s most treasured places. Nearly 600 businesses and chambers of commerce on Thursday sent a letter asking the head of the National Economic Council to encourage the Trump Administration to preserve safeguards for national monuments, including Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
John Hafford owns a design and marketing firm nearby and says the Katahdin monument has been a godsend to the area.
“It’s given a lot of hope to a lot of businesses, kind of a renewed sense of optimism in the region,” he says. “We’ve seen real growth with existing businesses, so it’s been a huge thing – a driver that has done nothing but help everyone.”
Katahdin is on a leaked report from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of monuments that could be reduced in size or altered. About 360 outdoor recreation businesses also have sent a letter to President Trump highlighting the economic benefits of the monuments to the livelihoods of local communities.
During Zinke’s national monument review, some three-million comments were submitted, with 99 percent in favor of keeping protections in place. Hafford says that support speaks volumes about the importance of preserving the legacy of these areas.
“These are the jewels of our country, these monuments,” he adds. “And to take tiny pieces of land in the areas across our country that are the most beautiful, most pristine and preserve them and leave them alone, I think that’s important not just to our generation, but to the generations in the future.”
The President recently announced plans to shrink two monuments in Utah. Zinke is said to be proposing reducing the size of up to six national monuments and changing the management of another half-dozen.