By John Holyoke
Bangor Daily News column
In not-too-unexpected news, it appears that President Donald Trump (with potential help from Maine Gov. Paul LePage) will take a second look at the formation of recent national monuments. The fear of some in Maine, though there’s no evidence that this is the case: Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, which was granted that designation last year, may eventually end up on that list.
To be clear, the path that led to the formation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was a bit like a Maine road in the springtime: It was full of potholes and unexpected bumps.
But eventually, the land that Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby purchased over the years was donated to the federal government, and a national monument designation was made official during the centennial anniversary of the national park system.
As an early opponent of a much larger, much more divisive attempt to turn much of the north woods of Maine into a national park, I came to appreciate the (eventual) course that Quimby took, turning the national park/national monument effort over to her son, Lucas St. Clair, and allowing him to mend relationships that seemed beyond repair.
St. Clair won over many other opponents, one cup of coffee at a time, and convinced many of us that a national park or monument in the area east of Baxter State Park was not only a fitting use of the land that his mother had bought, but would live up to the grand tradition of the nation’s national park system — among the greatest gifts to the American people that have ever been created.
Since the monument declaration last summer, I’ve heard from many who are excited about the possibilities, and several who have taken trips to the region to be among the first to explore our new national monument.
I still believe what I wrote last year: The time for debate is over, and the time to help form the best national monument possible is upon us. We — all of us, not just those who live in the immediate area of the monument — have been given a wonderful gift.
The land is ours. All of ours.
The weeks ahead could become contentious, and will likely be very interesting. As President Trump prepares to review decisions made by his predecessors, I’d be interested in hearing what you think about our new national monument. Have you visited? What did you think? What do you think the next step should be? And do you think that a review of Katahdin Woods and Waters should be included among the others that Trump is requesting?