By the end of 2017, visits to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument are expected to quadruple what they were during its first short season in 2016.
The Bangor Daily News reported the monument was visited by 7,162 vehicles so far this year, representing an estimated 14,324 people, compared with 1,762 vehicles last year.
“It’s exactly what we were all hoping for,” Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce President Jamie Brundrett told the BDN.
But Maine Snowmobile Association President Bob Meyers called the turnout “pretty underwhelming.”
Meyers told the newspaper that the national monument’s visitations lagged behind averages for Maine’s state parks, which according to counts provided by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands averaged 63,148 visitors to each of its 41 properties so far this year.
According to an August report by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the monument is spurring more visitors to the area; more investment and business in local restaurants, lodging and shops; more real-estate sales; and more employment.