Statement by Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
“We have reviewed the leaked memorandum to the President from Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, but the implications of the report for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument remain unclear. Without more details, we cannot yet judge whether these recommendations are acceptable and consistent with the overwhelming view of Maine people, problematic for the intended purpose of this Monument, or illegal and likely to trigger action in the courts.
“Sec. Zinke’s report proposes to amend the Proclamation for Katahdin Woods and Waters “to promote a healthy forest through active timber management” and to revise the Monument’s management plan.
“The Administration’s review process resulted in more than 260,000 comments in support of Katahdin Woods and Waters, and fewer than 100 in opposition. Of those comments expressing concerns, only a tiny fraction mentioned anything about timber cutting. Thus, for the report to state that “there are still concerns” that timber harvest will not be permitted in all parts of the Monument is a gross distortion of the record.
“Because we do not know what the Secretary means by “active forest management,” we have no way to know how damaging this recommendation might be. The Proclamation and the uses outlined in it reflect the agreements that were made by the donor of the land and the National Park Service. As a result, changing it would violate those agreements and the intent of the donation. If the Secretary envisions commercial timber harvesting, then it would be a clear violation of the laws that determine how the National Park Service manages lands. Such a proposal would almost certainly trigger a lawsuit. Commercial logging could cause substantial harm to the natural resources protected by the Monument and to the economic and recreation benefits already emerging at Katahdin Woods and Waters. However, if it means managing timber to restore a healthy, natural forest, build trails, and for educational purposes, it could be consistent with the Monument’s purpose.
“The recommendation proposing revisions to the management plan makes no sense because there currently is no management plan. The National Park Service is in the middle of a three year process to develop the management plan for Katahdin Woods and Waters. Discussion of where various uses should occur within the Monument should take place in that context.
“Once more information is publicly released, we will be able to determine whether the recommendations support or harm the values of Katahdin Woods and Waters. We are prepared to support a recommendation that is consistent with the intended purposes in the Presidential Proclamation for Katahdin Woods and Waters, but we also are reserving the option of filing a lawsuit if what is proposed is contrary to the law.”