“The Natural Resources Council of Maine worked tirelessly with me to establish the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Their persistence, expertise, and willingness to collaborate were instrumental in the establishment of the Monument in 2016. They did an outstanding job of reaching out to communities in the Katahdin region and people across Maine who had questions, concerns, or wanted to get involved. Now, NRCM’s ongoing support and vigilance, working with the Friends of KWW, will help this incredible new National Monument provide strong economic and community strength and help share one of Maine’s most cherished natural resources and the region’s cultural heritage with the rest of the world.” – Lucas St. Clair
President Obama designated 87,500 acres east of Baxter State Park as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on August 24, 2016, the day before the centennial of the founding of the National Park Service.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) joined Elliotsville Plantation Inc. (EPI), and worked with residents, small business owners, and community leaders in the Katahdin region and throughout Maine to make this Monument a reality.
Throughout the multi-year effort to help establish the Monument, NRCM had countless conversations in conference rooms, lecture halls, living rooms, and over cups of coffee to help shape the proposal in a manner that would help meet the needs and maintain traditions of the communities in the Katahdin region while conserving the natural beauty, wildlife, and recreational opportunities that make the land so special and inviting.
This designation protects critical habitat for Canada lynx, moose, black bear, and countless other species of animal, not to mention native plants and ecological communities like silver-maple flood-plain forests. It also extends the unbroken habitat and migratory corridor for countless species of birds, including some rare and threatened species, while providing a diverse mix of recreational sites and opportunities throughout each of Maine’s four seasons.
As with other national monuments and national parks, the economic benefits of designation were predicted to be substantial. What was not predicted was how soon after the designation that would prove to be true. This region, so devastated over the past decades by the closure of once-mighty paper mills, began to see resurgence immediately after the Monument was established. In the first months of the Monument’s existence, people from all over the nation are flocking to the land and surrounding communities. Small businesses are investing and expanding. Long-stagnant real estate is finally selling. Campground and hotel owners are already reporting their reservations are way above normal.
The Monument is supported by the vast majority of Maine people and joins a network of nationally treasured places that polls habitually show are supported by 95% of Americans. Yet this and other public lands are under attack. Governor LePage asked President Trump to rescind the designation, despite both of Maine’s Senators opposing the move. Rescinding would not only endanger thousands of acres of Maine’s North Woods but would also hurt recovering communities and the finally surging economic prospects of the entire Katahdin region. NRCM, our members and supporters, and our partners fought hard to help get this Monument established. We will continue to fight to protect it from short-sighted political actors.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is already proving to be an asset to the Katahdin Region, Maine and the entire nation.