By Francis X. Quinn, Associated Press
Portland Press Herald news story
AUGUSTA – It might be possible to resolve conflicting views on how to manage the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, but it would require more cooperation and communication between various interest groups, an advisory group said Thursday in a new report.
The Allagash Wilderness Waterway Working Group submitted seven recommendations to Gov. John Baldacci, who established the panel last June.
One recommendation calls for creating a superintendent’s position. Another would establish an advisory council.
Baldacci said in a statement he is committed to the latter.
“I deem this recommendation to be the center point of your report and around which the other recommendations are built,” Baldacci said.
Other recommendations — including the proposed creation of an endowment fund to support capital acquisitions and improvements — would be reviewed in detail, the governor’s office said.
The 92-mile waterway was established 40 years ago in the heart of Maine’s North Woods.
“Choosing Common Ground and Moving Ahead,” the report released Thursday, cited “conflicting constituent expectations” for the waterway and a “loss of public confidence” in its management.
“Members of the working group agree that the success of our recommendations on the governance-management-oversight structure for the waterway will depend in large part on the achievement of a common sense of purpose and direction by the several constituencies that have a strong interest in the Allagash,” the report said.
Last week, a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court aimed at invalidating a new state law that calls for the state to maintain 11 motor vehicle access points along the waterway.
Filed by Charles FitzGerald of Atkinson and Kenneth Cline of Bar Harbor, the suit contends the state law conflicts with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, a federal law under which the Allagash was designated a wild river area in 1970.
The U.S. Department of the Interior limited motor vehicle access points to just two places when the waterway was given its wild status, according to the complaint.
The working group recommended that the waterway remain within the Department of Conservation/Bureau of Parks & Lands for administrative and management purposes, and be restored to a pre-1995 status as a separate “region.”>/p>
Also proposed were a mission statement and a process for setting up consulting committees and annual reports to the Legislature.
The working group was chaired by Don Nicoll, a political and civic activist.