By the Associated Press
MILLINOCKET – A 4,000-acre parcel that includes Katahdin Lake has been added to Baxter State Park, fulfilling its benefactor’s vision and providing the ultimate holiday gift to the people of Maine, Gov. John Baldacci announced Friday.
The announcement followed completion of the purchase Thursday by the Trust for Public Land, which negotiated the deal with Gardner Land Co., led a $14 million private fundraising campaign and transferred the deed to the Baxter State Park Authority.
The deal also includes an additional 2,000 acres north of the lake that will be open to hunters and snowmobilers and be managed by the Maine Department of Conservation.
Baxter State Park, a 200,000-acre rectangle that includes Mount Katahdin, was donated by former Gov. Percival Baxter decades ago with the proviso that it remain “forever wild.” Over the years, Baxter had acquired land for inclusion in the northern Maine park but was never able to add Katahdin Lake, seen as a missing crown jewel.
In addition to miles of pristine lake frontage, the addition to the park includes old-growth forest and spectacular views of mile-high Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
“We could not think of a better holiday gift for the people of Maine. In a way it is a gift to ourselves, as so many Mainers helped to make this dream a reality,” Baldacci said in a statement released prior to announcements in Millinocket and Portland.