I either hadn’t heard of, or forgot the story of Saddleback Mountain until someone recently mentioned it in the comment section of a Bangor Daily News article; a fight that came to a boil in 1999. The essential basis for the fight was that the ski area owner wanted to cross the Appalachian Trail corridor with ski runs, and put a ski lift within sight of the AT corridor.
The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) members passed a resolution at their 1998 Annual Gathering in Concord, W.Va., that endorsed the strongest possible protection for the Appalachian Trail corridor across Saddleback. It passed without dissent. The resolution reads as follows: “That ALDHA supports the most comprehensive protective zone for the Appalachian Trail corridor on Saddleback Mountain in Maine, including all environmentally fragile subalpine areas in and around the corridor, the Eddy Pond watershed, and the area known as the Bowl.”
They further requested that; “the National Park Service take whatever steps are necessary to secure permanent protection for this most important remaining segment of unprotected A.T. corridor.”
The people of Maine have been fighting RESTORE in one form or another for almost 20 years now. The take home message of the Saddleback story for me is that if we all stand in solidarity (or as a member of our group put it; if we all go all in) they will fold. With strong , local, public outcry over the proposed Park it won’t come to pass. There are alternatives to the proposed Park that would make everyone happy, alternatives that will allow traditional recreational and economic use, and conservation in parallel. And I’ll end with a question – we have shown that National Parks always grow in size here – if you truly believe as proponents say, that this proposed 70,000 acre Park is not an anchor for the 3.2 million acre leviathan that was proposed by RESTORE, then why is Roxanne still purchasing property that was in the original 3.2 million acre proposal?
That’s not ” absolute paranoia and baseless fear” as quoted from the comments on a recent BDN article – that’s a real fact, and a real fear – National Parks will always grow in size. The story of Saddleback Mountain shows us that with solidarity and local public outcry the National Park isn’t going to happen. We need to push for a desired alternative that works for everybody.