by Katharine Bavoso
WCSH-6 TV news story
HAMPDEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER)– The Natural Resources Council of Maine is trying to gain community support to establish a new National Park and National Recreation Area east of Baxter State Park. The park would take up more than a hundred thousand acres.
But first, the group needs approval from Congress.
The NRCM held a public meeting Wednesday night to inform people in Hampden and other communities about this proposal.
Something that’s been done in other Maine communities. According to the North Woods Director of the NRCM, Cathy Johnson, this proposal for a new national park and national recreation center has been in the works for more than two years. Now the organization has a proposed donation for not only land but millions of dollars in endowment to operate and maintain the park.
The private company Elliotsville Plantation Incorporated has proposed to donate up to 150 thousand acres of land north of the Millinocket area and just east of Baxter State Park. EPI has also proposed to donate 20 million dollars in endowment money to the new park as well as raise an additional 20 million dollars toward that endowment. The land would be divided into two halves, one half the national park and the other half the national recreation area which would have accommodations for biking, hiking, snowmobiling and hunting within in legal limits. The new park and recreation area is projected to bring in fifteen percent of Acadia Park visitors- that’s about 200 to 300 thousand visitors a year.
“It’s also a huge potential economic engine for the Katahdin region. National Parks around the country bring visitors to the region and it would provide a real shot in the arm for the local economies in Millinocket, East Millinocket, Medway and the whole surrounding area,” said Johnson.
The NRCM says the next step in getting the park approved is enlisting the support of Maine’s congressional delegation. The organization asks community members to contact their representatives if they want the new National Park.