On the week of its centennial anniversary (August 25) the National Park System, along with the state of Maine and every American, received an 87,500-acre gift of beautiful Northwoods forest that President Obama just proclaimed as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
The land was generously donated to the American people by Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby and her family foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. A guarantee to safeguard the land in perpetuity was a condition of the gift, and President Obama relied on his authority under the Antiquities Act–a law established by Theodore Roosevelt–to secure the deal.
The gift also includes a $20 million endowment to support planning, infrastructure and maintenance of new monument.
This designation is particularly fitting to coincide with the National Park System Centennial. It has a lot in common with another Maine national monument designation that occurred just a month before the National Park Service was established. President Woodrow Wilson, responding to a similar private land donation and local initiative, created Sieur de Monts National Monument, which we all now know and love as Acadia National Park.
“Establishing the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument allows the region and its economy to benefit from a remarkable land gift and monetary endowment, and on this 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, it shows the same vision and generosity that made Acadia National Park possible more than a century ago,” said CRS President David Jenkins.
The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is next to Maine’s spectacular 209,644-acre Baxter State Park, home of Maine’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin (5,267 feet), and the Appalachian Trail’s northern terminus.
It is also in a region reeling from the recent shutdown of numerous pulp mills. The area desperately needs the tourism and recreation-related economic activity this high-profile national monument is expected to generate. Independent research shows that national parks and monuments provide an economic boost to surrounding communities.
CRS is pleased that Congressman Poliquin and Senator Collins, though not in favor of the monument designation, pledged to work constructively to move the project forward.
“The move to protect this unique north woods landscape, and the many traditional outdoor recreation opportunities it offers, follows Theodore Roosevelt’s genuinely conservative approach to stewardship and ensures that more of Maine’s outdoor heritage is protected for our children and grandchildren,” Jenkins said.
“It should also be understood that this designation is in full accordance with the wishes of the private landowner who generously offer these lands to the public,” Jenkins added.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is a great addition to the National Park System and a wonderful way to celebrate a century of protecting our nation’s natural and cultural history. Teddy Roosevelt would surely approve.