by Christine Parrish
Free Press news story
National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis will visit Maine on Monday, May 16, to hold a statewide public hearing to address public thoughts, questions and concerns about a proposal to establish a North Woods National Monument east of Baxter State Park, according to a spokesman for Senator Angus King.
On May, 16, Jarvis will meet with officials in the Katahdin region at noon prior to the state-wide public meeting, which will be held at 5 p.m. at Hauck Auditorium at the University of Maine at Orono.
The Obama administration has routinely held prominent public hearings to get feedback from local and statewide residents prior to making decisions about national monument designation. Director Jarvis, who has family connections to Downeast Maine, has visited the Katahdin region several times to answer questions and hear local concerns about the proposal.
The May 16 meeting was initiated by Senator King, who will moderate the morning meetings with Boards of Selectmen from the Towns of Millinocket, East Millinocket, Medway and Patten at the Katahdin Region Higher Education Center in East Millinocket. King will also moderate the Orono meeting.
The proposed gift, of approximately 87,000 acres of forest in the vicinity of the East Branch of the Penobscot River, is privately owned by a foundation headed by Roxanne Quimby, a philanthropist and the founder of Burt’s Bees natural products company. Quimby wants to give the land to the National Park Service with a private endowment to establish the monument and maintain it, according to Lucas St. Clair.
St. Clair, who grew up in rural Maine, has been the spokesperson for the Quimby family effort for the past five years and has worked to broaden the original goals of the proposal to allow for traditional uses like hunting and snowmobiling, in some areas. St. Clair also advocates establishing the history of logging and the timber industry and its importance to Maine at the site.
The family goal is to establish a national monument under presidential authority and eventually to establish a national park with congressional approval.
Those opposed to federal ownership have cited fear of increased federal regulations.
St. Clair said the access for snowmobiles, ATVs, and hunting will remain on the east side of the river if the monument is established. The west side of the river would be open mostly to non-vehicular recreation.
When asked how the Quimby family could continue to control what types of uses are allowed or not allowed once they no longer own the property, St. Clair gave an answer every Maine landowner understands:
Additional information on the public hearing will be provided in the days prior to the event.