What IS the big deal? What’s the harm? We all want the facts right? Sounds fair enough?
Before going any further along this post, please read the National Park Service Critera for Parkland
There is a glaring omission from this lengthy page outlining criteria for Parkland. Did you find it? Have a guess?
Here is a hint from the article;
To be feasible as a new unit of the National Park System an area’s natural systems and/or historic settings must be of sufficient size and appropriate configuration to ensure long-term protection of the resources and to accommodate public use. It must have potential for efficient administration at a reasonable cost. Important feasibility factors include landownership, acquisition costs, access, threats to the resource, and staff or development requirements.
Still don’t see it?
Lets put some of the bigger pieces of the puzzle together in a Readers Digest condensed version. First, as you may or may not know, Restore:The North Maine Woods arrived on the scene here in Maine in 1992 with a big plan to start a 3.2 million acre National Park. Roxanne sat on the board of Restore, and split with them in about 2004 when it became evident that support for a National Park was simply not there in Maine, nor did they have a plan for the land acquisition. She then began quietly (sometimes not so quietly) purchasing pieces of the property that were in the original Restore plan. There was a vision at one time (2004) to make Monson the gateway community to the proposed Park which you can read about in a great press release here. On or about 2007 the US economy began its downtrend, the Millinocket mills eventually closed, and in 2010 Roxanne was appointed to the National Park Foundation Board of Directors. Restore called it a “unique set of circumstances” and pushed with renewed vigor for a National Park. The pieces were all in place- The Wolf at the Door was ready to finally pounce on it’s prize.
But the window of opportunity was short lived. The mill re-opened, the State Legislature voted overwhelmingly against a feasibility study as did the towns of Millinocket and East Millinocket. Maine’s Senators and Representatives have said they will not support the Park without the majority of Mainers behind the idea, especially local approval.
Which brings us back to the question at the top of the post. The glaring omission is LOCAL impact. The only thing a feasibility or reconnaissance study will show is whether or not a Park is feasible for the area, period. It will not assess the impact to the local community. And if proponents get the study, they’ll get the Park. The study is also not done by an independent entity encompassing the local impact, rather it is done by the National Park Service which, where I come from, is called a conflict of interest.
So, we’ve seen in previous posts what can happen to states with large amounts of Federal Land, some Real Facts and Real Fears about National Parks, including the fact that they never stay the same size after inception. They always grow, and proponents are deliberately misleading you to say otherwise. We’ve seen what the economic impact will really be in Economics 101 and the jobs that will be lost should a National Park in the region become a reality. Proponents have claimed that a National Park will take people off welfare and yet we’ve seen what the Welfare statistics are surrounding Acadia National Park, and that most National Parks do not hire the local population.
I find it amusing that proponents think this message is anti-government in nature, nothing can be further from the truth, it is a pro-Maine message. We have been such good stewards of the land in the first place, which is why it’s there for preservationists to want to protect. The land was open and accessible for ALL to use, not just a select few, until Roxanne bought it and put up gates. You can read more about issues surrounding access here and here.
Why would you want to give that land away?
John Malone one of the largest landowners in the US, and Maine understands the need for both conservation and the continuation of a working forest and traditional access; He intends to keep the land as a working forest, aides said, and will continue to supply timber to local paper mills and keep the land open to the public for recreation. And as Frank Janusz directly put it; Frank Janusz, the owner of the Airline Lodge and Snack Bar in rural Hancock County, where much of Mr. Malone’s new land is located, had just returned Friday from grooming 40 miles of snowmobile trails.“Without the snowmobile business, six to eight people would lose their jobs right here,” he said, adding that access to the land was critical. “We’d die without it,” he said.
We can, and should, explore other options to preserve the integrity of the land, and yet continue to allow access for EVERYONE, both recreational and employment related. With the way people feel here in Maine, proponents owe it to us to do just that.
It’s amazing to me that proponents are stuck on the notion that the Forest Industry here in Maine is a dying industry, as nothing could be further from the truth. There is a ‘must read’ story here where In Westbrook, we are producing World Cup soccer shoes and Gucci jackets out of Maine paper. In Old Town, our pulp mill is producing jet fuel. Composite wood, liquid fuels and sugar from trees are being researched at the University of Maine, while Europeans are eyeing torrefied wood, so-called wood coal that they can burn in the existing fluidized bed coal power plants. Sawmills are toughing out a housing recession, yet the projected 60 percent increase in annual allowable cut in spruce/fir over the next 20 years, not to mention the rising volumes of white pine, all bode well. On the news just this morning there was a story about exporting cedar log cabin kits to China.
How embarrassed will you be if Maine creates a big National Park, and ends up having to import it’s wood at a higher cost?
The town of Millinocket has never marketed itself, we need to give them a chance to do so, and they have a plan in place to begin that, which you can read about here
There are alternatives that allow Maine to financially prosper from it’s unique forestland, while conserving that land in parallel. It’s what we as a State have done for generations, and we’re pretty good at it. It’s why the land is still there. Proponents should be exploring these options instead of forcing their will on the people of Maine whom have continually told them no.
The people behind this website are fighting for their way of life, their livelihood, their backyards, and their traditions. They’re spending their own money, and their own valuable time to get the message across. They actually care about Maine’s future and Maine’s woods, not a legacy or a non-profit success.
And that’s the big deal about a feasibility or a reconnaissance study. It will not include the local impact, which will be an impact that is detrimental to the future of the State. We can do better.