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Interior Secretary Salazar: No Plans To Explore Possibility of a North Woods National Park in Maine



There are no plans at this point for the National Park Service to look into the merits of a "North Woods National Park" in Maine, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

During a congressional review of the Interior Department's FY 2013 budget proposal, Secretary Salazar told U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that the Park Service is not planning to conduct a "reconnissance study" of the proposed park.

"There is no effort under way to do any of that," the secretary said last week.

Talk of creating a national park in Maine's North Woods has been kicking around for roughly 20 years. The drivers behind Restore: The North Woods long have envisioned a 3.2-million-acre park, one that would be 1 million acres larger than Yellowstone National Park and which would help wildlife species threatened with extinction for lack of habitat and protect the "wild forests of New England."

The appeal of a "North Woods" national park reached all the way to Washington, D.C., where Interior Secretary Salazar was so intrigued by the possibility that he and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis traveled to Maine last August to meet the locals and hear their thoughts on the proposal. The two didn't promote the idea, but rather tried to answer questions from those on both sides of the issue.

Roxanne Quimby, who built a fortune making candles and personal care products under the Burt's Bees label, so believes the landscape is worthy of "national park" status that she has offered to transfer roughly 70,000 acres of her land that butts up to Baxter State Park to the National Park Service.

The gesture, while seen as grand by many, is looked down upon by others who believe Maine's woods exist to be logged or that having the federal government in the backyard in the form of a national park would create too many "restrictions and rules."

“Since your visit to Maine in August, the proponents have been trying hard to gain support for the completion of a feasibility or reconnaissance study, but I will tell you that the harder they have pushed, the stronger the resistance has become,” Sen. Collins told Secretary Salazar during the hearing.


Disappointing. America deserves a North Woods National Park.

It is important to be clear about this. According to the Bangor Daily News, Sec. Salazar said, “We have no plans to move forward on a reconnaissance study on the proposal from Ms. Quimby on the national park." His words were carefully chosen. First, he said there are no plans, which does not rule out a study in the future. Second, he limited his remarks to Ms. Quimby's proposal, which is different than the Maine Woods National Park & Preserve vision that has been put forth by RESTORE: The North Woods. And third, Sen. Collins' comment that "the harder [proponents] have pushed, the stronger the resistance has become” is relative and anecdotal. It says nothing about the actual support for the national park idea. Every statistically legitimate poll I have seen shows a majority of Mainers surveyed are supportive of the park idea. It is important to separate political spin from quantifiable fact. ~ Jym St. Pierre, Maine Director, RESTORE: The North Woods

As a Maine native, I have been excited for years about the possibility of preservation in Maine's north woods, but I'm not surprised by this decision, or even terribly disappointed. Maine's own Baxter State Park is managed much better than the national parks in terms of wildlife habitat and conservation - the management of our national parks is subject to too much special interest pressure and politics. I would love to see Roxanne Quimby's land added to Baxter, or even created as a new park system, outside of the national park system. I would love to see Restore's goal of 3 million acres preserved, and hope that it happens.
I'm resigned to the fact we probably can't preserve this much land without being part of the national park system, but hope that we can move forward with turning some of Roxanne's land into permanently protected parkland in the meantime, using much more forward thinking conservation policies than the national park system uses (which focuses way too much on recreation, at the expense of conservation).

Think about the timing.  Snowe's sudden retirement gives the Dems a legit chance to pick up her seat; taking Maine Woods NP temporarily off the table might be the politically prudent move at the moment. 

Locals were also againt Teton National park back in the day

Justin - don't quite get your logic.  Why do you think creating Maine Woods NP would be unattractive to Dems?

Hey Anon,

I don't.  Just the opposite.

Then could you explain why it would be politcally prudent to pull the proposal?

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