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NRCM Representative Encourages Creation of National Park and National Recreation Area

Jul 27, 2016

The National Resources Council of Maine has been around for more than 50 years. And even though Eliza Donoghue has only been with NRCM for three of those years, she’s a passionate advocate for the environment.

Donaghue spoke to a small but inquisitive crowd last night at the Moore Community Center in Ellsworth. Her topic was the sometimes controversial creation of a National Park and National Recreation area on up to 150,000 acres east of Baxter State Park. The land was designated a National Monument by Executive Order of President Obama, but it will literally take an act of Congress to now make the area a National Park.

Of the 150,000 acres, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. wants to donate 87,500 acres and will put into place a $40 million endowment to support the park and recreation areas. Donaghue presented a stunning visual of roads in the eastern half of the U.S. and pointed out the vast roadless wilderness of northern Maine, which stands in stark contrast to most of the country, contains flora that is 90% native to Maine (70% is typical), and is home to wildlife such as the rare Canada lynx and Rusty Blackbird – whose population has declined by 90% in just the last few years.

Donaghue says she understands the concerns surrounding creation of a National Park. Because of a decline in forest products, some landowners wish to subdivide and sell their lands. Others are concerned about logging rights and a potential tightening of Clean Air Act standards, which could limit industry in the area. But Donaghue shared multiple examples of current National Parks where logging has continued unimpeded outside the parks and shared there have been no cases of tighter restrictions since the Clean Air Act was enacted in 1977. And she said that in addition to preserving wildlife and native plants, National Parks have been proven to benefit surrounding areas in at least three ways – a rise in real personal income, population growth, and an increase in employment opportunities.

The area, currently known as Maine Woods National Monument, is open to the public and under the supervision of the National Park Service at present. And polls show 67% of Maine’s Second Congressional District supports the creation of the National Park and National Recreation Area (a segment that would allow hunting and snowmobiling). But to date, none of Maine’s representatives has submitted legislation to create the Park. That’s why, Donaghue points out, President Obama took the same protective steps as President Woodrow Wilson did in 1916 when he designated what is now Acadia National Park as Sieur de Monts National Monument.

The meeting was sponsored by the Ellsworth Garden Club.

If you’re interested in contacting your legislators with questions, concerns, or encouragement about the creation of a National Park, you can reach them at the links below.

Senator Susan Collins – https://www.collins.senate.gov/contact
Senator Angus King – https://www.king.senate.gov/contact
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree – https://pingree.house.gov/contact-chellie
Congressman Bruce Poliquin – https://poliquin.house.gov/contact

Sonnie Shepherd

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