The proponents of a second National Park in Maine have stated that this wonderful “gift” will be an economic engine and revitalize the economy of Northern Maine. Proponents have previously said that the proposed National Park is the ONLY viable option to create jobs…that is…until Cate Street Capital opened up the mill again in East Millinocket. Now that tune has changed to the proposed Park would be part of economic “diversity” in the region, implying that the two can work hand in hand. When pressed for information, what we get is the answer that a feasibility study is needed – now downgraded to a reconnaissance study after the feasibility study was voted against 513-132 -the results of which you can see here. Yet one only has to do some simple searches on the internet to come up with some hard facts.
First, the proponents of the proposed Park would have us believe that should the Park come to fruition that the Northern Maine economy will be “revitalized” . Lets look at some other states and see if that is true.
The Federal Government owns almost 650 million acres of land (2.63 million square kilometers), which is nearly 30% of it’s total territory.
In Maine, there is 22,646,400 acres, of which Acadia National Park comprises 47,748.
Should the proposed 70,000 acre “seed” become the 3.2 million acre goal, 14% of Maine’s land will be under Federal control. Pretty big number. For proof that the goal is indeed 3.2 million acres, see unanswered questions.
So, let’s look at another state – how about Nevada. In Nevada the Federal Government owns 84.5% of the land and it’s two popular National Parks – Great Basin and Death Valley. So, if the proponents of the new Park for Maine are correct in their theory, Nevada’s economy should be revitalized and the economic engine should be chugging right along.
So, what do you think Nevada’s unemployment rate is??
Lets look at California – 45.3% of which is under Federal control and home to; Golden Gate Recreation Area, Joshua Tree NP, Lassen NP, Lava Beds NM, Pinnacles NM, Redwood NP, and the ever popular Yosemite NP. According to the proponents theory, California should be very well off with all that Federal land and jobs.
And yet the unemployment rate for California is almost 12%.
Maine, with very little Federal control has an unemployment rate of 7.5%, or almost half that of states that have a lot of Federal land and popular National Parks.
In fact, one could make the argument from the data that Maine’s unemployment rate is more likely to go UP if we got a new National Park.
Lets look at the Forest Products Industry in Maine.
10 years ago Restore did an economic impact study of their proposed 3.2 million acre park, and things have changed a lot in those 10 years. They projected that jobs related to the forest industry here in maine would be declining and the gradual phasing out of forestry jobs. But, like all industries, the forest industry has progressed. It’s not all about paper any more. The wood pellet industry has been created and taken off in those 10 years. With the price of oil rising, large businesses are switching to boilers that burn pellets instead of oil. It’s been discovered during those 10 years that Pine trees produce a rare substance that is part of the Tamflu vaccine, you can read about that discovery here.
The wood liquor industry for use as a potential fuel is in its infancy and also has potential for tremendous growth, and again wasn’t in the cards 10 years ago. I also discovered this article during my research; record timber sales.
What will happen to this if we lock up 3.2 million acres of Maine’s working forest? What cures or vaccines or other uses for timber will happen in the next 10 years?? The predictions of Restore 10 years ago have not come true.
Even a short 6 years after Restore’s impact study came out, this study came out;
Here is the all important number from that report;
The annual contribution of forest-based manufacturing and forest-related recreation and tourism to the Maine economy is over $6.47 billion.
And more importantly;
Each 1,000 acres of forest land in Maine supports 1.2 forest-based manufacturing, forestry and logging jobs and .7 forest-related tourism and recreation jobs.
So, lets do the math.
1.9 jobs per 1000 acres is .0019 jobs/acre multiplied by 3.2 million acres is 60,800 jobs lost In just the forest industry alone.
That’s a lot of park rangers.
Restore themselves in their impact report mention that the proposed national park would eliminate1 billion from the economy. Then they go on to try to make that number seem small and insignificant because they project declining harvest numbers, which other reports 10 years later show is not the case.
Let’s take a look at snowmobiling.
Direct evidence of snowmobiling’s economic impact on the state can be found here
So, the hard numbers are 300 -350 million brought in to the state and 2700 + jobs.
Proponents will tell you that it is ‘not true’ that a national park would ban snowmobiling, yet they are forgetting the ‘but’ after that statement. Sure, you can snowmobile in Acadia NP – only around the loop road and ocean drive. There will be some snowmobiling in a proposed park – key word being some. It will not be like it is today. Consider this statement “Environmentalists are encouraging park officials to keep the number of snowmobiles around 260 a day for the coming season — the average number that have used the parks for the past five years — and eventually to phase them out. “ quoted from a NY times article. This is the direction that Parks are taking..phasing out.
Lets take a look at ATV’s – which have become very popular over the past 10-15 years, and hunting. The source of the data cited is “Public access to Maine’s private lands, a Cultural and Economic asset” prepared by the Maine state planning office.
In 2006 (source 2006 census) Hunters spent 240 million in the state of Maine. I can’t find data on how many jobs that brings to the state, but think of all the guides, lodging, gun shops, and sporting goods stores, not to mention the mom and pop variety stores that benefit from this activity.
In 2004 ATV’s brought in 200 million to the state and were responsible for 1,975 jobs.
So – there are some hard numbers for you.
Back when Restore was pushing their own agenda for the same proposed National Park Ron Lovaglio came out with the following statement;
Maine Department of Conservation Commissioner Ron Lovaglio stated at the Maine Woods Conservation Easement Forum that the wood products extracted from the 3.2 million acres of forestland in the Maine North Woods adds approximately $986,000,000 to the Maine economy each year through wages and sales of products and services. According to the Maine Office of Tourism, the typical overnight visitor to our region spends $85/day. To make up for the loss of productivity of locking up 3.2 million acres of forestland, a National Park would have to bring 11.6 million ADDITIONAL tourists to the region.
The data shown earlier in this post shows his statement to be accurate.
Where do you think these tourist are going to come from?
Acadia NP – one of the most visited, only attracts approximately 3 million visitors per year as a comparison.
And finally, what about the loss of the tax base of 3.2 million acres? Maine has a tree growth tax program which greatly reduces the amount of tax paid, but they are certainly getting a large amount of money in taxes from that property. As far as taxes go , it is basic economics 101 that if you remove a large tract of land from the tax base, the tax burden on other properties will go up. Proponents will tell you their big idea is Payment in lieu of Tax (PILOT) program – However “Although some would say that federal land will return money to the tax rolls through the Payment In Lieu Of Tax (PILOT) program, the 1994 Balanced Budget Act (as well as current budget realities) keep this program from being funded at more than 50% its necessary level. Therefore, Maine should expect no more than 50% of the reduced land value payment we should receive, should 3.2 million acres become federally owned. Consider Maine’s track record with the Tree Growth program and reimbursement to municipalities.” (Cited from Maine Woods Coalition).
And the last time I checked – our Government is broke.
And yet the proponents of a Park say this is a “no brainer”.
Their proposed Park will destroy Northern Maine’s economy.
I propose that it is time for a regift.
I propose that there are a number of ways that we can all get what we want – public reserved land or a land trust being a couple of examples.
Really think about it before you support giving all this land away from our State.