The Universal Notebook: The case for a Katahdin Woods national monument

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Just in time for the centennial of the National Park Service and the final year of the Obama administration, philanthropist Roxanne Quimby and her family are seeking national monument status for the land east of Baxter State park they have been assembling in hopes of it becoming a national park.

National monument status can be a first step toward a national park, Acadia National Park having begun life as Sieur de Monts national monument in 1916.

Let’s hope President Obama adds Quimby’s forest lands to the 19 properties he has designated national monuments.

Roxanne Quimby, founder of Burt’s Bees natural cosmetics, deserves credit for her foresight and perseverance. She is a classic American success story, having parlayed beeswax lip balm into a major company and a personal fortune. She has been spending that fortune for the past 17 years in the North Woods with an eye toward donating forest land as a national park.

Hallowell-based RESTORE: The North Woods deserves credit for tirelessly promoting the national park idea with a much grander scheme (one I support as well) to create a 3.2 million-acre Maine Woods National Park surrounding 200,000 acre Baxter State Park.

Quimby’s son Lucas St. Clair deserves credit for winning a great deal of popular support for the much more modest 150,000-acre national park and recreation area for which his family is now seeking national monument status.

In the best of all possible worlds, Maine’s congressional delegation would have introduced legislation to create the national monument, but U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, the state’ most progressive representative, is the only one of the four who supports the proposal unequivocally. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King pussyfooted around the proposal, sending a letter to Obama outlining nine conditions under which they could support the naming of a national monument.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin signed on to the letter to Obama, which was couched in terms of “serious reservations,” but when the press reported the letter as the delegation outlining a way forward, Poliquin insisted he actually opposed the proposal and planned to introduce legislation to limit a president’s power under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to proclaim national moments. Poliquin’s bill is a non-starter that has veto written all over it.

A national park or monument east of Katahdin is supported by the majority of people in Maine, but it is opposed by groups such as the Maine Forest Products Council and Maine Woods Coalition.

One of the fears opponents have expressed is the loss of traditional recreational use of the woods. But the conditions placed on the proposed national monument, which were developed and agreed to by the Quimby family (not our equivocating congressional representatives) preserve those uses. Commercial logging and timber harvesting would be prohibited within the national monument, but then it already is. That’s Quimby’s right as a private property owner.

The most effective – though specious and dishonest – argument opponents make is the bogeyman of the federal government taking the property of unwilling sellers by eminent domain. That’s because, in order to appease folks who fear the 3.2-million Maine Woods National Park, Quimby is proposing to limit the park/monument to 150,000 acres, but she currently only owns 87,500 acres. She is also proposing to contribute $40 million to endow the land.

“The park would be limited to that size,” St. Clair says of the 150,000-acre figure, “but it could stay at 87,500 acres. If it is proclaimed a national monument, land would only be purchased from willing sellers. If it were to become a national park, we have drafted legislation stating that land cannot be acquired by the National Park Service by eminent domain. If the park were to expand it could only do so with donated land.”

Short-sighted people opposed Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, too, so it’s no surprise that Poliquin and Gov. Paul LePage oppose the national monument. More reasonable people have been coming around to the idea in recent years, as it has become more and more apparent that the pulp and paper industry is dying and that the future of the North Woods lies in conservation and recreation.

But St. Clair says it’s hard for some to understand that his family has no ulterior motive in seeking national monument status as an interim step toward a national park.

“We’re given away $100 million in assets that we could otherwise use for ourselves,” he says. “We are not trying to get anything out of this. It is an act of philanthropy. I think it will prevail.”

So do I. A Katahdin Woods & Waters national monument makes good economic sense and good environmental sense.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

1
  • Christopher White

    What an absolutely idiotic idea from a demented mind. Edgar Allen Beem should be institutionalized.

    • Christopher White

      There is a guy too cowardly to post under his own name who has hijacked mine to make his juvenile and sometimes vile comments. I’m doing what I can to regain control of my own name and image.

      • Christopher White

        Not true.

      • AnitaMuellerMillinocket

        I see what you are saying Christopher. You have almost 1000 comments and the hijacked account has less than 100. Perhaps you could rename your profile. Not sure how that works. But, childish for sure that someone would take your profile.

        • Christopher White

          I am who I am. I have absolutely no intention of being forced into rebuilding my online life unless a far more dangerous threat to me or my family presents itself than the one of this cowardly troll pretending to be me while making comments worthy of a middle school bully.

          • Christopher White

            My butt hurts from my dog fvcking it.

  • AnitaMuellerMillinocket

    Maine as a whole has an unprecedented economic opportunity with a new national park or monument designation east of Baxter. Either way, it will take people like Mr Beem speaking out to make this happen. Thank you for such a well articulated article Mr Beem.

    • BKD_Mill

      It’s sad that if you write a opinion piece in support of this farce proponents always comment how articulate and we’ll written it is. I will also add that I have traveled, hiked, canoed and fished many places within this proposal, even though it has many endearing qualities (which by the Maine has many) none are NP status.
      I would also add other groups besides the ones mentioned in this article that oppose it, Sportsman Alliance of Maine, Fin & Feather Club of Maine & the Maine Guides Association. These groups alone surpass the number of signatures collected from around the world.

      • nzzkw

        The Quimby propaganda doesn’t mention that the local people in the area affected have opposed in Quimby in 2-1 landslide defeats and have opposed the Federal takeover scheme for decades — despite the millions spent in an ongoing PR blitz from wealthy pressure groups and Quimby. That is why the governors, legislatures and Congressional delegations have opposed it for nearly 30 years and is why Quimby and the little tyrants trying to shove it down our throats are resorting to a cynical, anti-democratic abuse of civil rights through a presidential decree. They really are tyrants.

      • nzzkw

        The Quimby propaganda doesn’t mention that the local people in the area affected have opposed in Quimby in 2-1 landslide defeats and have opposed the Federal takeover scheme for decades — despite the millions spent in an ongoing PR blitz from wealthy pressure groups and Quimby. That is why the governors, legislatures and Congressional delegations have opposed it for nearly 30 years and is why Quimby and the little tyrants trying to shove it down our throats are resorting to a cynical, anti-democratic abuse of civil rights through a presidential decree. They really are tyrants.

        • Trinket Worker

          2 to 1 landslides ! Keep makin stuff up . What part of only 600 people voted on both sides of the issue in 2 towns makes a landslide dream on.

          • nzzkw

            The two towns, in the bulls eye of the target, where town votes were held rejected Quimby 2 to 1 despite her one-sided campaign blitz spending millions on propaganda and community organizing. People across the state, the legislatures, the governors, and the Congressional delegations have rejected Federal control since the plan to takeover millions of acres of private property was first promoted from Washington DC in 1988.

    • nzzkw

      Federal wilderness control imposed to prevent economic development and destroy private property rights is not an “economic opportunity”. We have seen the wilderness fanatics’ utopian propaganda for decades. It is not “well articulated”, only dishonest political campaigning by ideologues.

  • truther

    “That’s Quimby’s right as a private property owner.”

    This is what I don’t understand. If you’re worried about easements and restrictions and the like on other parcels of adjacent land then fine, that’s at least a valid issue to consider. But as far as the private property that this citizen actually owns, she has every right in the world to bequeath it to the government. There’s something borderline obscene about these anti-government, anti-socialist, don’t tread on me people trying to use federal legislation to prevent a private property owner from using her private property in a way that the local community freeloaders don’t approve.

    • nzzkw

      There is no “right of a private landowner” to bring a Federal agency in to control land in Maine. Quimby has no right to change the form of government on her own and the National Park Service has no right to go wherever it wants to in another land takeover. That is why Congressional approval is required to establish a new National Park or expand an existing one. This is no “gift” by Quimby. It is a cynical attempt to buy government policy and power to impose her anti-private property rights wilderness ideology over the objections of people for decades, now with a blatant anti-democratic, and civil rights presidential decree.

      The open agenda to take over other people’s private property in this political campaign is obviously a threat. Quimby lied for years claiming she owned the land. She does not. She is trying to use her land as a “seed” to entrap other people as inholders in a Federal “protection” boundary as well as establish a power base for the National Park Service to expand over time to takeover millions of acres, as Quimby and her cohorts have openly advocated for decades.

      That is the obscenity. Being “anti-socialist” is not, and people are not “freeloaders” for opposing her ruthless imperialist impositions.

      • truther

        Your response is all over the place. I’m talking about the land she owns. If she doesn’t own any of it then it should take about 5 minutes’ research to prove that.

        A citizen has the right to bequeath his or her property to the federal government and the government is empowered to take possession of private property. Otherwise Poliquin’s proposed legislation limiting that power is pointless.

        Congressional or presidential action is needed to then convert that property into a park (or monument), but that’s another matter entirely. It has nothing to do with imperialism or tyranny. If you have a problem with the federal government you should have thought of that before Maine became a state.

        I just don’t understand this fear of the federal government. It’s our government! Is Bruce Poliquin the enemy? How about the vets who get care at Taugus, are they the enemy, too? Maybe we should all write letters to Governor LePage, mailing them in our nearest post office box, and then get in our cars and drive up I-95 to Augusta to petition him to keep the feds out of our state?

        • Trinket Worker

          Always all over the place good luck .

        • nzzkw

          My post was not “all over the place”, it addressed the misconceptions and insults in your own post.

          It has been proven from the tax records that Quimby does not own much of the land she has been promoting as a “gift” and this is now well known outside of Quimby propaganda. The people she is trying to trap as inholders refuse to sell to her and oppose the Federal control she is trying to impose on them with a Federally protected area. Her campaign has been deceptive for years.

          She does not have a “right” to impose Federal control over an area of a state. That is a change in governmental jurisdiction ceding territory, not a “bequest”. Bringing in the National Park Service in a political agenda for mass wilderness preservationism under Federal control is not a “gift” and not like transferring land among private owners.

          The power of the Federal government has been hurting people everywhere. It is not “our government” and it is not “us”. It rules by force in one scandal after another in realms far beyond what it was supposed to be involved in at all. The National Park Service in particular has a brutal, arrogant record of abuse against private property owners and local communities across the country for a century, including in Maine at Acadia, the Appalachian Trail and downeast. If you don’t know anything about why people object to it, opposing the National Park Service and greenline plan that was first promoted from Washington almost 30 years ago, you should find out before endorsing Quimby’s scheme. Snide comments about what you claim I should have thought of “before Maine became a state” are absurd and irrelevant. Maine split off from the state of Massachusetts in the early 1800s and I wasn’t there for either of them. Those who were did not endorse today’s Federal government, which has almost nothing in common with the limited constitutional government it was supposed to be. They did “think of it” and did the best they could, but a constitution is only on paper; it is not self-enforcing against those who don’t understand its purpose to protect the rights of the individual citizen and who want government power to impose their own collectivist agendas — such as the mass population displacement and cultural genocide committed by the National Park Service on behalf of wealthy, politically-connected elitists who regard the people in their way as to insignificant to care.

          When Quimby began collaborating with Restore in its 3 million acre Federal wilderness agenda targeting other people’s private property in 1998, she thought she could buy her way around the large scale popular opposition to Federal control by simply “giving” a National Park with a “seed” to
          take the rest. She found out otherwise and has been trying to politically manipulate the imposition of her agenda ever since, now arrogantly with a presidential decree. It is widely known that the Antiquities Act, which was passed to protect small historical sites like Indian artifacts already on Federal land, has been abused as a means to bypass Congress in locking up enormous areas of land, including in collaborations with private political agendas. Quimby is collaborating with the Interior Department and hired Washington political consultants to tell her what to do. Yes she is a tyrant. She has been scheming, stalking, harassing and threatening since 1998. Restore started much earlier. She is a ruthless power seeker with no regard for the civil rights of the people in the way of her utopian wilderness ideology. She has utter contempt for the local people, as do many of her supporters, and has spent literally millions in a deceptive PR blitz trying to manufacture the appearance of popular support that she tried to bypass but needs politically. Her push polling didn’t work even superficially where people know what she is doing and she lost in 2 to 1 landslides despite her one-sided propaganda and community organizing. That is why she wants a presidential decree. Yes she is a tyrant.

    • brucefl56

      She does not own the water rights.. the people if the State of Maine do. Federal government does not have control, the State does. To turn over State Soveringty is a fools errand.

  • SteveWoodsME

    Twice in the last month I agree with EAB….

    Here is a link to a one-hour radio interview I did last year with Lucas St. Clair (Roxanne Quimby’s son) and it all makes sense to me; http://www.tidesmartradio.com/lucas-st-clair/

    • nzzkw

      This “interview” is no more than a Quimby promotion letting Lucas go on with his rehearsed campaign rhetoric as advised by Quimby’s Washington DC political consultants. The Quimby political agenda appeals to a mentality that naturally gravitates to centralized dictatorial power with utopian imagery and doesn’t know enough to question what it means in reality. A legitimate interview would have considered the 30 year old history of this scheme as what it is as well as the record of the National Park Service abusing property owners and why it could not be stopped by the victims despite all the previous promises. It would know what questions to challenge Lucas with instead of being a love-fest with a radical political campaign.

  • peterplus

    Unfortunately, President Obama
    could not tell the truth about guns in America in his address to the nation.

    The truth is this. Republicans who
    have blocked all meaningful gun regulation, including their refusal last week
    to deny guns to individuals on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List, among them
    Senator Susan Collins, must be run out of office. And in order to achieve this,
    these republicans must be cut off from the so-called Christian conservatives
    who support them and vote for them.

    I know these Christian
    conservatives because I grew up with them. They are mostly terrified white men
    who want to return to the good old days which were good only for white men and
    fairly terrible for black people and gay people and women. They oppose social
    programs to benefit the poor and to pay workers a living wage, but have no
    difficulty endorsing American wars all over the world, usually in the name of
    Jesus, wars fought by the children of the poor and the working class and that
    profit the capitalist hoarders who own stock in the weapons manufacturers.

    These same Christian republicans
    opposed Medicare and Social Security and equal rights for women and gays. And
    they opposed the health insurance my four children can now afford. All this while endorsing the right of
    every moron to walk around with an assault rifle.

    These Christian conservatives are
    as great a threat to America as any foreign born terror group. And they must be
    opposed and banished from the American political landscape. Any group of
    people who believe in a virgin birth but do not believe that the polar ice caps
    are melting even when you show them photographs of the polar ice caps melting,
    are doomed to insignificance. They have lost every battle they ever waged
    against reason. They will lose the gun battle as well in the next few years. I
    predict that it will be the women in America who sweep the guns away much as
    the mothers in MADD triumphed over the right of every moron to drive drunk.
    Within ten years the guns will all be gone as they are now in the UK thanks to
    old Maggie Thatcher.

  • brucefl56

    Where do they dig up these people

    • EABeem

      You’re talking about the majority of Maine citizens.

      • Christopher White

        Are you often call a GIANT LIBERAL PVSSIE?

  • Christopher White

    I am a FASCIST.

  • Christopher White

    Just in case anyone wonders or sees some juvenile snark supposedly posted by me, there is a right wing troll who has set up a fraudulent DISQUE account using my name and image.

  • EABeem

    A great day for Maine and for America! President Obama has declared the 87,000 acres Roxanne Quimby gave to her country a national monument. Despite what some critics say, the local opposition was less in Maine than anywhere else in the country.

    • Chew H Bird

      ” …the local opposition was less in Maine than anywhere else in the country.”

      That doesn’t make it right. The rights of the people most impacted, (those that live there), should be respected rather than steamrollered.

      • EABeem

        Proximity does not make anyone more entitled. It was not their land. The majority of the people in Maine favor a national monument.

        • Chew H Bird

          I like the idea of a national monument and even a national park, but I also believe strongly that if the local residents do not want it, somewhere else is the appropriate choice. Just because monuments and parks are generally viewed as positive things does not give our government the right to do what the people do not want. If the people of Maine (absurd example), decided to put an automotive junkyard next to your house, would you think the will of the people outweighs your right to retain the quality of your home?

          • EABeem

            If local people wanted something else to happen with that land they should have acquired it. Just because someone lives closer to the land than someone else does not give them more standing. No one has the right to expect to be able to make a living in a town. If a few folks in the Katahdin region are upset that Quimby purchased the land and gave it to the American people, they should be angry with the paper companies that 1) sold off their forest lands and then 2) closed down the mills. The fact that a minority of local yokels think a foul, polluting paper industry was preferable to a national park is beside the point. Your junkyard analogy is ridiculous. The paper mills were the junkyards. I grew up next door to one. I know. There is no future for paper in Maine. The dinosaurs can protest all they want, but no one else has done a darn thing to protect and preserve the environment or the economy of that part of the state. This is a good thing for everyone.

  • Lou Ureneck
    • EABeem

      Land has been set aside for hunting, but most people don’t hunt and don’t want hunting in public places such as Baxter and Acadia. In the long run, hunting will die off as people become more civilized and realize there is no need to kill wild animals. Maine game wardens took a big step toward getting hunting outlawed altogether when they went on TV with straight faces and said that bears would be roaming the suburbs unless hunters too unskilled to track a bear were allowed to bait them with 55 gallon drums of donuts. Bears get habituated to human food BECAUSE hunters feed them! Left alone, nature finds it own balance.

      • Lou Ureneck

        Ed, Most people don’t hike or canoe but their desire to hike and canoe should be respected. I surely do. Hunting is a traditional activity, and open land has been a tradition in Maine, unlike many states where rich people pay dearly for the privilege to hunt or fish. Hunting is an ethical activity, and many of our most important conservationists have been hunters. Theodore Roosevelt, for example. Worth noting: Roosevelt was introduced to hunting and the outdoor life by a Mainer in Aroostook County. Great story, and all of our national parks may be traceable back to the 19th Century lessons near Island Falls. Nature’s “own balance” is to create surplus, which then dies natural deaths from starvation, etc. Biologists set Maine hunting regulations based on the concept of harvesting the surplus. Hunting does not reduce numbers of animals in the aggregate in a defined region over a number of years. This is the basis of modern wildlife management. I appreciate Roxanne Quimby’s gift — I only wish it didn’t have the whiff of the elitism that comes from her conditioning it on her animus toward a legal, ethical and traditional Maine activity. It goes against the grain of the long history of Maine — note the common laws that keep the below-the-tide margins open to public use (fishing and fowling) and spirit of the Great Pond Law. I don’t favor baiting bears. By the way, I hope you’re well and prospering these days. Long time, no see.

        • EABeem

          I say again, hunting is allowed in some of the new federal property, just as it is allowed in 25% of Baxter State Park. I did not say hunting should be outlawed, I said I believe it will die a natural death as more and more people realize it is not necessary or desirable to kill wild animals. “Harvesting the surplus” is just as bogus as hunting over donuts. Bears do not need us managing them, they need is leaving them alone. Don’t feed the bears. It’s a pretty simple idea. Let me know if you want to be notified the next time the Geezer Group of veteran journalists meets. You’d know a lot of people.

          • Lou Ureneck

            Ed, Good to see some things never change — your certitude among them. Yes, shoot me a note when the group gathers … Thanks.

          • EABeem

            You post a comment put of the blue and are surprised when it doesn’t change my mind?

      • Jimmy_John67

        “Hunting will die off as people become more civilized and realize there is no need to kill wild animals.”

        Thank goodness for civilized people like you that condemn hunting but love the killing of captive animals, most often raised in disgusting conditions on industrial farms before being cruelly slaughtered and dying scared and in pain after a miserable life. What a sorry excuse for a human being you are.