KATAHDIN REGION – The national monument in the Katahdin region has caused heated debate since it was first proposed.
Now, a new argument has surfaced as the white house is considering bringing the land under review.
After years of battling, president Obama thought he ended the issue when he designated nearly 90-thousand acres as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Now, the battle over the land is back in the spotlight, as gov. Lepage heads to Washington to urge president Trump to overturn the donation.
But the man heading the foundation that’s donating the land says it’s giving the area a new identity.
“Up until last august, most of the stories you heard were about hardships the community is facing,” Said Lucas St. Clair, President of Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. “And now it’s on the list of CNN’s most important places to visit in the world in 2017.”
To better understand why the governor is fighting such a donation, we need to look back at how we got to this point:
– 2012-2016: Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. meets with Katahdin area residents and proposes national park.
– 2014: Katahdin area chamber of commerce endorses proposed park.
– March 31, 2016: Maine House of Representatives votes 77-71 against the proposal of the monument (symbolic “non-binding” vote).
– April 19, 2016: Patten, Medway, East Millinocket residents vote against proposal (symbolic “non-binding” move).
– August 23, 2016: Quimby’s transfer 87,000 acres to the United States.
– August 2016: Lepage, Collins, Poliquin speak out against the monument, saying it ignores the wishes of Mainers. Dems show support.
– April 26, 2017: President Trump signs executive order calling for review of all national monuments since 1996, with Gov. Lepage in the room.
The keystone of Lepage’s argument is that he believes President Obama had no right to designate the land because he didn’t consult the state.
And as a national monument, the state cannot regulate activities on the land, employ state officials to maintain it, and the land is no longer taxable because it’s not private anymore. But St. Clair argues the the area is seeing economic growth on its own.
“We’re really seeing just a recognition of the place and just how beautiful it is,” St. Clair added. “And we’re also seeing visitation and the economy is starting to rebound.”
The monument is Maine’s reality, if not permanently, than at least for the time being. A lot of Mainers recognize that, and have been looking to the future since last fall.