By Susan Sharon
MPBN news story
A new poll of 500 likely voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District finds overwhelming support for a national park and recreation area in the Katahdin region. The poll, conducted in May by national pollster Hans Kaiser, found that 67 percent of respondents approve of the idea of creating a 150,000-acre park and recreation area east of Baxter State Park. About 25 percent oppose it.
“It really showed that the jobs message that people are understanding – that between 450 and 1,000 jobs would be created with a national park in the Katahdin region – and that’s getting people really excited and much more optimistic,” says Lucas St. Clair.
St. Clair is the president of Elliotsville Plantation, Inc, the foundation that is proposing to create the park and recreation area, which would permanently protect access for outdoor recreation such as snowmobiling and hunting. He says one of the most encouraging findings of the poll is that opponents’ arguments are not resonating with voters.
“When we tested all of the messages that opponents were using – that this would be taking land out of the wood basket, or the federal government is sort of this bogeyman that would eventually take over land in the 2nd District – none of those messages moved people to oppose the park,” he says.
Creating the national park will require congressional approval and, so far, no member of Maine’s congressional delegation has committed to sponsoring legislation for it, but St. Clair remains hopeful that the results of the poll will push them toward giving that consideration. An earlier poll by Critical Insights also found strong support for the park idea.
There will be an informational meeting about the park June 10 at the Medway Middle School at 5:30 p.m. St. Clair says it’s an opportunity for residents to come out and ask questions about the plan.