Plan For Maine Woods National Monument Stirs Controversy, Even Among Snowmobilers

Maine woodsPlans to create a National Monument in Northern Maine are stirring up strong opinions and feelings in the Northeast, as some fear the locking up of more land by the federal government while others see it as a chance to formally secure lands long-term for various causes – including outdoor recreation – while also creating local jobs.

The proposed creation of the Maine Woods National Monument in the Katahdin Region of Northern Maine has even stirred up differing opinions within the snowmobiling world.

Maine Snowmobile Association President Bob Myers has been an outspoken opponent of the proposal as a part of the Maine Woods Coalition. That coalition has been a leader in an opposition group who thinks the 88,000 acre proposed National Monument is the first step toward a 3.2 million acre Maine Woods National Park that is desired by many monument supporters. That, they fear, could lock lands away from snowmobilers, hunters, fishermen and others who have long recreated in the area.

But this week in an opinion column in the Bangor Daily News, longtime snowmobile club member, president, groomer and resort owner Rick LeVasseur wrote passionately about the advantages of the planned monument, and noted that it is getting increasing local support. Here’s a link.

At the heart of the Monument subject is a proposed donation of $60 million worth of land, plus a $40 million endowment to operating the Monument, being offered by a controversial Maine business and land owner, and the fact that a Monument can be created by a presidential executive order, without Congressional approval. Many feel that President Barrack Obama is leaning toward creating the Monument, both to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service and for his legacy.

The Washington Post had an interesting story recently covering both sides of the controversy that’s definitely worth a read for somebody interested in learning more about the situation. Here’s a link.

Either way, this one bears watching for snowmobilers.

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