September 21, 2017  
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RESTORE says national monument report calls for celebration, but caution
RESTORE says national monument report calls for celebration, but caution

This has been a day for celebration, but also for caution. Today we mark the first anniversary of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, designated by presidential proclamation last year in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. It is also the day when Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has reportedly recommended that our new national monument not be rescinded or reduced in size. However, serious questions remain about whether our monument will truly gain the strong, permanent protection it needs.

Sec. Zinke’s recommendation comes as the result of a review of more than two-dozen national monuments ordered by President Donald Trump in April. Sec. Zinke’s strong recommendation is expected to carry significant weight with President Trump.

Jym St. Pierre, Maine Director of RESTORE, said, “We are waiting to see the full report, but it looks like it will not propose troubling changes to the national monument.”

“Our organization has been involved in the fate of the Katahdin region for twenty-five years. We have spent a lot of time in the area. In fact, I was guiding in the Katahdin national monument just yesterday,” St. Pierre said. “I met people from Millinocket who used to be skeptical as well as others from out-of-state who were anxious to see the area. They all had one thing in common. They love the new national monument.”

Creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was one of the most spectacular conservation successes in New England in decades. The Quimby-St. Clair family purchased the 87,462 acres from willing sellers and donated it for public use forever. They also pledged to give $40 million to fund stewardship of the property.

Michael Kellett, RESTORE’s Executive Director said, “This is an important benchmark in the long story of conservation and revitalization of the Katahdin region. We believe that the review process was unnecessary, but it has confirmed that the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is a gem that should be left essentially intact.”

The national monument has gone through an exhaustive public process. Scores of meetings have been held with elected officials, businesses, local residents, and others. Thousands of people have signed petitions supporting the national monument. Of the more than 190,000 comments received by the Department of Interior about the monument, 99.9% supported keeping it as is. More than 2,800,000 people have urged the Trump Administration to maintain protections for all of America’s national monuments that are under review.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is delivering on the promise of providing a wide array of benefits. It is:
• conserving Native American, early logging, and other archaeological and historic sites
• celebrating routes traveled by Thoreau and Teddy Roosevelt and other cultural features
• maintaining natural ecological processes
• safeguarding functioning ecosystems to restore and preserve biodiversity
• restoring habitat for imperiled species including the bald eagle, lynx, and Atlantic salmon
• providing for public recreational use and enjoyment
• protecting forest lands that can serve as carbon sinks to slow global climate change
• providing complementary management to the adjacent Baxter State Park wilderness
• offering opportunities for scientific research
• supporting new jobs in the Katahdin region and beyond
• generating revenue from year-round retail sales and tourist accommodations
• helping to stabilize populations in gateway and nearby communities

St. Pierre said the record shows that there was significant public input and support prior to the designation of KWWNM, that there is broad and growing public support, that there is wide political support, and that the monument is providing environmental, economic, recreational, and social benefits.

It was RESTORE’s vision that established a framework for conservation in the Katahdin region. The group also prepared the first detailed visitors’ guide to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Hundreds of copies have been distributed in the past year. Its popularity shows how much interest there is in tourism in and around the monument.

The National Park Service has been undertaking a management planning process for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, but that has been virtually suspended while the monument was in limbo. Now the planning and care of the area can get back on track.

Some news reports have hinted that logging may be allowed in the national monument.

Kellet said, “Limited demonstrations of early logging techniques for education may be OK, but opening the monument to commercial logging would impair the natural integrity of the monument and violate the National Park Service Organic Act. It should not be allowed.”

Conservationists are waiting to see the final report from Interior Secretary Zinke with detailed recommendations that could determine the future of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Until then, we are cautiously optimistic that our monument will remain truly protected.

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RESTORE: The North Woods is a nonprofit conservation organization working to restore, preserve, and defend the natural integrity of the North Woods of the United States and Canada.

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2017 (Archive on Thursday, September 14, 2017)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre
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