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Governor’s Address: Federal Takeover of the Katahdin Region is the Wrong Way to Go

Maine is home to 48 State Parks and historic sites. Acadia National Park is also right in our backyard.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

These parks are a part of what make Maine beautiful. They entice people from near and far to explore our coastline, mountains and woods.

Now there is talk about turning land in northern Maine into a National Park. There is no need for this intrusive land grab from the federal government.

This land borders one of Maine’s finest parks, Baxter State Park, the home of Mount Katahdin. Today, thousands of residents and visitors enjoy areas around Baxter by ATV and snowmobile.

People hunt and fish there, too. If the federal government takes over, that could and likely will come to an end. Remember in 2013 when the federal government shut down? The feds closed a critical access point because it was located on federal land. We requested the boat launch to remain open. Since Maine taxpayers completely fund and operate the park in which it is located, it seemed like a perfectly logical request. That request was denied.

We do not need any more political dysfunction from Washington, D.C.

Make no mistake, the creation of another National Park will diminish the ability of Mainers to use the land and Great Ponds in Northern Maine for the traditional activities they have enjoyed for nearly 200 years.

Some say a National Park is needed to boost the economy in this region. They believe the “branding” of a National Park designation is necessary for economic growth in this region.

However, National Parks draw visitors based on the spectacular natural assets they protect – not as a result of “branding.” The proposed Park does not have such magnificent assets.

The federal government has proven it is not a good manager of forest land, as we have seen from forest fires in the West. Prohibiting the timber harvest in the National Park would be irresponsible.

Proponents have discussed the economic benefits of this scheme by touting studies performed by pro-National Park consultants. These economic promises provide false hope to those who live in this region.

Let’s give the people in this region real hope. Today, more than three-and-a-half million acres of our State are protected by conservation easements. If additional land needs to be protected in the Katahdin region to spur economic development, I welcome that discussion.

I would gladly consider expanding Baxter State Park to make that a reality.

Even Governor Baxter himself saw the flaw of a federal takeover. In the mid-1930s, there was serious thought given to making the Katahdin region a National Park.

Governor Baxter saw the folly in this idea. He successfully waged a personal battle for years to stop a National Park from being established in this area and to keep control of our resources in our state—not in Washington, D.C.

The Maine Legislature also said no. In 2011, legislators overwhelmingly opposed the creation of a National Park by a Joint Resolution. Of the 186 legislators, only 3 were in favor of a park.

When there are problems with our State Parks, Mainers know who to call to get these issues resolved. A National Park will put faceless bureaucrats in Washington D.C. in charge of our land.

I wrote to President Obama on this very issue. I told him another National Park is not welcome in Maine, and now it’s up to you. Please contact the Maine Congressional Delegation and let them know how you feel. Tell them a federal takeover of the Katahdin Region is the wrong way to go.

Thank You

Paul R. LePage

Governor

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