Katahdin Woods and Waters will be “protected forever”
NRCM news release
The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) today heralded the creation of a new national monument in Maine. “We are thrilled about President Obama’s decision to establish a new national monument in Maine on land east of Baxter State Park,” said NRCM Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann. “We can think of no better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service than with the addition of the wonderful Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.” NRCM is the leading Maine environmental organization that has been working to establish this new national monument.
The President’s action was made possible because about 87,500 acres of land purchased by Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. (EPI) is being donated to the Department of Interior to be enjoyed in perpetuity by the people of Maine, the nation, and the world. EPI also has pledged to provide a $40 million endowment to support the monument’s operations.
“We are delighted that today’s historic announcement will conserve this spectacular place so Mainers and visitors alike can enjoy the area’s stunning beauty and learn about its rich history,” said Pohlmann. “Acadia National Park is a treasure for those seeking Maine’s beautiful coast, and the new national monument celebrates Maine’s amazing inland woods, mountains, waters, and wildlife.”
The land includes stunning views of Mount Katahdin, the wild and beautiful East Branch of the Penobscot River, forests that inspired Henry David Thoreau and Teddy Roosevelt, and wonderful wildlife that will delight visitors of all ages.
President Obama’s decision comes at a time when support for protection of these lands has become strong statewide. Public opinion surveys have shown that more than 60 percent of Maine voters support a national park. Many national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Acadia, and Grand Tetons, first were protected as national monuments.
The Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, representing 140 local businesses, strongly supports today’s action. In March 2015, more than 200 Maine businesses, primarily from northern Maine, endorsed creation of a national park and national recreation area for these lands. In November 2015, national park supporters delivered a petition to Maine’s Congressional delegation with more than 13,000 signatures from people living in 371 Maine towns, 50 states, and 53 nations.
Residents of the Katahdin region have also voiced their strong support for the President’s action, including the following:
Gail Fanjoy, lifelong Millinocket resident and President of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce: “I am beside myself with joy about the creation of this new national monument in the Katahdin region. We have worked so hard for this day, and now it has arrived. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will not be a silver bullet for our economy, but it will deliver very positive benefits, including new jobs and increased tourism, just like national monuments have for local communities across the nation.”
Matt Polstein, owner of Twin Pine Camps on Millinocket Lake: “Over time, today’s action will help create new high-wage, non-exportable jobs that are desperately needed in the Katahdin region, while also conserving this place of exceptional natural beauty and historic value for the benefit of future generations.”
Anita Mueller, Millinocket business owner and former Millinocket Town Councilor: “This is great news for the Katahdin region. The creation of a new national monument will help us move our economy forward in a positive direction. As a growing number of people come to visit this area, I know that they will fall in love with what they see. They will tell their friends and they’ll want to come back. This area absolutely is deserving of national recognition, and now we have it.”
Clint Linscott, Business Owner and Selectman from East Millinocket: “This new National Monument is terrific news for our region. It will breathe new life into our community. With the downsizing and closure of our mill over the last few years, we need new job opportunities. Young people have had to leave town to find work and our schools are struggling to stay open. Now we have hope for the future. We welcome new visitors and residents alike who will love the incredible beauty of our region and want to learn about our proud history of papermaking.”
Richard Schmidt, Patten Selectman, lifelong Katahdin region resident, and Veteran: “I look forward to Patten acting as a gateway community for the thousands of people who will visit. Many will buy goods and services from our local small businesses; some moving here, revitalizing our tax bases, refilling our schools and helping ensure the things we love and value about our state and nation are protected forever. Too few people know about our region and we look forward to introducing them to this beautiful area.”
Studies have shown that national monuments provide substantial economic benefits for nearby communities. For example, a report issued in April 2016 by the Small Business Majority showed that national monuments designated by President Obama are providing $156 million in economic benefits annually to communities surrounding the monuments.
“We are deeply grateful for this historic decision by President Obama to establish a new national monument in Maine,” said Pohlmann. “We also are grateful for the vision and commitment of EPI, and for the passion and hard work of all those who helped make today a great day for land conservation in Maine.”
“The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will be protected forever as a place where visitors can sit along the pristine shores of the East Branch of the Penobscot River, camp under the dark skies of Maine’s North Woods, watch the sun set behind majestic Mount Katahdin, learn about the region’s cultural history, and explore its woods and waters in hopes of seeing a moose, loon, or Bald Eagle,” said Pohlmann.
“Our family would like to thank President Obama and the members of his administration for their hard work to safeguard America’s natural treasures and for their efforts to prepare the National Park Service for its next 100 years of success,” said the Board of Directors of Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. (EPI) in their written statement. “This designation is a fitting tribute to the ‘Centennial of America’s Greatest Idea.’”