Blog Post Kristen Brengel May 31, 2016

Maine Woods Myth Buster: Top 4 Myths about Creating a New National Monument in Maine’s North Woods

A generous land donation would pave the way for the creation of the new Maine Woods National Monument. Here are four myths circulating about the proposed park.

Americans have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accept a generous donation of land – an amazing piece of northern Maine Woods where rivers run wild, loons call to each other under a starry night sky, and moose trails lead you to grand views of the Appalachian Mountains. This is a place where you can gaze back to a time seemingly distant from your busy modern life.

A private foundation has proposed donating more than 87,000 acres of land along the East Branch of the Penobscot River to be managed by the National Park Service as a new Maine Woods National Monument. Home to wildlife such as lynx, bears, brook trout and moose, this landscape has the chance to be permanently protected under a presidential proclamation. Traditional land uses including hiking, biking, skiing, hunting, snowmobiling and fishing will continue to be allowed, and the new monument will honor those who used the land before us, including the Wabanaki. The donor of the land, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., will also provide a generous $40 million endowment to support future operation and maintenance costs for the national monument.

NPCA strongly supports the gift of a Maine Woods National Monument and would like to address some of the misinformation that is being shared about the proposal.

Myth #1: A national monument will prohibit hunting and snowmobiling.

Snowmobiling and hunting are allowed in many parts of the National Park System, from Denali National Park and Preserve to Big Thicket National Preserve, and will continue in the proposed Maine Woods National Monument, specifically on the lands east of the East Branch of the Penobscot River.

Myth #2: The proposed Maine Woods National Monument designation is not legal under the Antiquities Act.

A unit of the park system can be created two ways: 1) by an act of Congress or 2) through the president of the United States’ authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Many national parks, including Acadia and the Grand Canyon, were first designated as national monuments by sitting presidents.

Regardless of political affiliation, nearly every president since 1906 has used the Antiquities Act to protect nationally significant places for all Americans to experience and enjoy.

Myth #3: A national monument will harm the local forest products industry and local business.

The Park Service would have no authority over timber harvesting outside the boundary of the proposed national monument. Many national parks including Great Smokies, Olympic and Yellowstone have active timber harvesting nearby.

A Maine Woods National Monument would only enhance and grow the economic opportunities for the state. In fact, communities located near national parks grow faster and have stronger economies than similar areas without a national park or monument presence.

National parks are good for business, from tourism to recreation. For every dollar invested in the Park Service, about $10 is generated for the American economy. Last year, visitors to national park sites in Maine spent nearly $250 million, supporting more than 4,000 jobs. That sum includes money spent by people staying at local hotels, eating at local restaurants, and buying goods at local stores and recreation outfitters. Across the country, national parks created $32 billion in economic activity last year, and support nearly 300,000 private-sector jobs.

Myth #4: The residents of Maine do not want another national park site.

Roughly 1,400 people participated in recent public meetings led by Sen. Angus King and Park Service Director Jon Jarvis to discuss the proposal with a vast majority of those participants in favor of creating a national monument in the region. In addition, polling (PDF, 14 pages) shows that nearly two-thirds of Maine residents support creating a unit of the park system in the Katahdin region. And more than 200 Maine businesses in the Katahdin, Houlton, Presque Isle, Bangor and Acadia regions have signed a letter stating their support for the park proposal.

The proposed Maine Woods National Monument is also supported by the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, the Katahdin Rotary Club, the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce, the Bangor City Council and the Maine Innkeepers Association.

Maine Woods can be our next great natural national park. It can provide a place for Mainers and all Americans to hike, camp, picnic, swim, fish, boat, watch wildlife, or otherwise enjoy a splendid natural landscape preserved in perpetuity. NPCA strongly supports the Maine Woods National Monument proposal and believes this site is worthy of an Antiquities Act designation by President Obama. We hope it happens soon.

Learn more here. Follow the conversation online with #MonumentForME.

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