Is The Time Right For A "Maine Woods National Park"?

Maine's North Woods long have supported a vibrant logging industry, and now are being eyed as providing another economic stimulus, in the form of a national park. The area also is sparsely populated, as the "human footprint map" created by the Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada Program depicts. Photo from QT Luong's collection of Maine photos, used with permission.

Twenty years before the first national park, and more than a century before the Wilderness Act, (Henry David Thoreau) asked, "Why should not we ...have our national preserves, where ... the bear and pather ... may still exist, and not be 'civilized' off the face of the earth?" The Maine of his bark-canoe trips was the deepest wilderness Thoreau would see in his lifetime. Today, astonishingly, it looks much the same as it did when he saw it. Lake and river, many thousands of miles of shoreline are unbroken by human structures and are horizoned only by the tips of spruce.

John McPhee recounted Henry David Thoreau's experience, and added his own thought, more than three decades ago in The Survival of the Bark Canoe. It was, and remains, a great book about the craft of making bark canoes and, in turn, of exploring northern Maine's rivers and lakes by canoe.

No doubt more than a little has changed from that landscape that Thoreau enjoyed, and perhaps even since Mr. McPhee explored it on a 150-mile paddle with Henri Vaillancourt, who kept alive the art of building birch bark canoes. Enough remains, however, that many believe the rivers and lakes and the rumpled mountains and deep forests of Maine's North Woods deserve recognition as a national park.

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The North Woods from QT Luong's collection of Maine photos, used with permission.

"Just the fact that there's this large ecosystem that's intact, where there are no people living, there's no commercial development, and the native species still run the roost up there, that in itself is somewhat unusual for the Northeast, for the East Coast at all," says Roxanne Quimby. "And to preserve that ecosystem with its waterways, its moose and deer and beaver and brook trout and all the rest of the species that live there ... there's even Canada lynx up there."

So strongly does Ms. Quimby, who built a fortune making candles and personal care products under the Burt's Bees label, believe the landscape is worthy of "national park" status that she has offered to transfer roughly 70,000 acres of her land that butts up to Baxter State Park to the National Park Service.

The gesture, while seen as grand by many, is looked down upon by others who believe Maine's woods exist to be logged or that having the federal government in the backyard in the form of a national park would create too many "restrictions and rules."

"We have the American way and democracy and yet one person with deep pockets and tunnel vision is forcing her will on the masses," Mike Madore, a member of the Millinocket Town Council, told the Bangor Daily News back in August. "That is not democracy. That is dictatorship."

Ms. Quimby, though, isn't forcing the issue. Her 70,000 acres -- a large swath of watershed cut by the East Branch of the Penobscott River, a landscape dotted with timber, bogs, lakes, and ponds and streams -- won't be given over to the government without the support of Maine's politicians and residents, she says.

"Right now what we're trying to do is get some buy-in from the local folks for a feasibility study," she said during a long phone conversation last week. "And then if we can do that, then perhaps we can convince our (U.S.) senators to support a feasibility study. Right now they don't. So if we get local buy-in to put pressure on the senators to support a feasibility study, that's kind of the route we're taking."

Talk of creating a national park in Maine's North Woods has been kicking around for roughly 20 years. The drivers behind Restore: The North Woods long have envisioned a 3.2-million-acre park, one that would be 1 million acres larger than Yellowstone National Park and which would help wildlife species threatened with extinction for lack of habitat and protect the "wild forests of New England."

But that effort has struggled to gain traction.

"It seems quite impractical and unrealistic," says Ms. Quimby. "They don't have an execution plan. They have absolutely no plan on how that would come about. It's all privately owned right now. They're not fund-raising to buy it. I don't see that anybody's donating, so I just don't see how it can happen."

Economic Doldrums

Since the 1992 launch of Restore and today, the economy of northern Maine has been on somewhat of a downward spiral. The logging industry has retracted and retracted, no doubt partially due in part to massive stacks of timber coming out of British Columbia, where beetle-killed wood is being salvaged.

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Can a national park spur Millinocket's economy? From QT Luong's collection of Maine photos, used with permission.

Its been long since timbering had its heyday in the small towns near the North Woods. Gone are the days when payrolls aproached 4,500, according to Ms. Quimby.

Three years ago the mill in Millinocket shuttered, and three months ago so did the one in East Millinocket, she points out. A national park, along with preserving a sublime landscape, would bring a significant boost to the economy, believes Ms. Quimby.

"One of the most important issues, I think, other than conservation of the ecosystem question, is the viability of the communities in the area," she says. "As the forest products industry declines, and the land becomes further fragmented through smaller land owners, I think that the ecosystem is in jeopardy.

"What has happened regionally to the communities is that they have suffered terribly with the decline of the only industry in the ara. In Millinocket, for example, one of the towns up there, there's an unemployment rate three times the Maine average. It's about 22 percent unemployment. They're having trouble filling the schools because there's not enough people to populate the schools," says Ms. Quimby.

"Businesses are closing. ... Basically there's very few opportunities for people to make a living. We have the oldest demographic in the country, the state of Maine does. More old people than any other state in the country. One of the reasons why is the young people leave. They have to leave to find a job."

The cachet of a "national park," she says, would help bring some of those jobs home. Bed-and-breakfasts could open to cater to tourists, guide services could be created, there could be coffee shops, restaurants, and Internet cafes, Ms. Quimby continues.

“I think that, superficially, if you are comparing say a chambermaid to a millworker, that the millworker does make more money by the hour. But tourism I think is valuable in that it can provide entrepreneurs with opportunities," she says. "And the entrepreneurs have the possibility of making a decent wage."

It also can bolster gateway towns, says Alex Brash, the Northeast regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

“Roxanne’s incredibly gracious offer to help create a new national park up there in time for the centennial would, even with just 70,000 acres, as the piece attached to in essence, contiguous with Baxter, clearly I think would jumpstart tourism up in that area," he says. "Just the branding by itself, it would bring more people who I think would particularly fly into Bangor, and then rent a car and do a two-, three-day trip, because it’s an hour-and-a-half one way to go down to Acadia (National Park) and Bar Harbor, and it’s an hour-and-a-half from Bangor to go back up to the North Woods.

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Logging has been on a long, slow decline in northern Maine. From QT Luong's collection of Maine photos, used with permission.

"Bangor would become a hub city more like Boulder (Colorado, near Rocky Mountain National Park) or something, and then you'd end up with something like two or three towns like Medway and Greenville and Millinocket that ultimately would become Estes Parks," the gateway to Rocky Mountain, says Mr. Brash.

Washington Is Listening

The appeal of a "North Woods" national park has reached all the way to Washington, D.C., where Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was so intrigued by the possibility that he and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis traveled to Millinocket in mid-August to meet the locals and hear their thoughts on the proposal. The two didn't promote the idea, but rather tried to answer questions from those on both sides of the issue.

While only Congress can order a special resource study to assess the pros and cons of creating such a park in Maine, the Interior secretary could order the Park Service to do a smaller, less intensive, "reconnoissance study," says Michael Kellett, the executive director of Restore.

“I think he is thinking that that wouldn’t be a bad idea, if we can convince the members of Congress," Mr. Kellett says. "He knows (U.S. Sen.) Susan Collins from when he was in the Senate, apparently. ... But what he needs is to tell people to write to him and contact him and tell him to do a study, and write to their Congress folks."

If one of the concerns of those who oppose the idea is that a national park carries tight rules on what can, and can't, be done within its borders, perhaps what needs to be done is to take a look at life within the boundaries of Adirondacks State Park in New York. Far and away the largest state park in the country, at some 6.1 million acres, or roughly one-third the land mass of the Empire State, the park is a model example of blending multiple uses under the banner of a park.

"Within its boundaries are vast forests and rolling farmlands, towns and villages, mountains and valleys, lakes, ponds and free-flowing rivers, private lands and public forest," boasts the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

That model -- a park that encompasses public and private lands and even villages -- is also seen in England.

Ms. Quimby's land in Maine sidles up to Baxter State Park, which covers more than 209,000 acres. Tying the two together could create a public lands preserve of nearly 300,000 acres of woods, streams, mountains, lakes and ponds. Stretch the boundaries further, as Restore would like to do, and a multiple-use landscape could be knit together.

Communities could remain in place, with the "park-and-preserve" boundaries excluding them, while sustainable logging, if economical, could be continued under Restore's vision. Too, tax roles could be maintained through federal "payments in lieu of taxes."

And 14 million acres of additional forestlands in Maine would remain outside the borders.

At the NPCA, Mr. Brash doesn't dismiss such an idea.

"I think going forward, if that does work, yeah, you would probably end up with something much more like an Adirondack kind of mixture of land ownership and land uses and so forth," says Mr. Brash. "The two things that we've consistently talked about and mentioned is that there are new models of national parks."

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Ms. Quimby's land is adjacent to Baxter State Park (above). From QT Luong's collection of Maine photos, used with permission.

Of course, he points out, there are many units of the National Park System that allow various levels of use. Some permit snowmobiling and all-terrain vehicle or off-road vehicle use, and there also are units that allow hunting, said Mr. Brash.

In the end, if Maine was to land a new national park, the enabling legislation drawn up by Congress would specify what uses would be permissable, he added.

How the Maine idea evolves could influence future decisions on how national parks might function, says Ron Tipton, NPCA's senior vice president for policy.

"I think this type of park model will become more prevalent, given there are fewer and fewer pristine landscapes but also continuing interest in creating new parks. It's also clear to me that future national parks will more often follow the Santa Monica (Mountains NRA) model of multiple partners and more limited NPS ownership," he says.

"As for Maine, I expect we will ultimately have a core national park that is managed similar to a traditional park unit surrounded by some combination of park preserve, heritage area and/or an Adirondack Park-like overlay. It makes total sense; in fact, the Adirondacks are a great model for the Maine Woods," Mr. Tipton added.

Pieces Of The Puzzle And Perseverance

A national park, whether just comprised of Ms. Quimby's 70,000 or so acres, or paired with Baxter State Park, or perhaps even moving towards the scale of Restore's 3.2-million-acre vision, would be key to a point or two Park Service Director Jarvis made early in late August when he outlined to the agency's employees a Call To Action to prepare the Park Service for its second century, which begins in 2016, the year that Ms. Quimby would like to see her gift formalized as a new park.

One aspect of that blueprint calls for creating "a national system of parks and protected sites (rivers, heritage areas, trails, and landmarks) that fully represents our natural resources and the nation's cultural experience." Another calls for promoting creation of "continuous corridors" to support ecosystems.

A national park in the North Woods of Maine certainly would help accomplish both those goals.

"Either parks are becoming increasingly isolated, or we have to figure out a way to maintain corridors and connectivity and have a gradation of landscapes around them so that ultimately the grizzlies from Glacier can still find the grizzlies in Yellowstone every once in a while, and, you know, the birds migrating along the Atlantic Coast, from the barrier islands, Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral, will have feeding and roosting sites all along the way that will still have berry trees and so forth," says the NPCA's Mr. Brash.

"Any number of examples everywhere. So, I think clearly if we’re going to maintain the ecological integrity to a reasonable extent in our country, we’re going to have to figure out how to have these kinds of mixed landscapes.”

Down through the history of the National Park System there have been more than a few private citizens who have come forward to help build the system. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., played a key role and spent tens of millions of dollars in either creating or adding to Grand Teton National Park, Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite National Park, and Shenandoah National Park.

His son, Laurance, was significant in the creation of Virgin Islands National Park and in the creation of the National Park Foundation, the charitable arm for the Park Service.

George Dorr spent four decades of his life and much of his own fortune to see Acadia gain national park status.

Study Maine's history and you'll learn about Percival Baxter's donation that led to the state park named after him.

These individuals and their determination and perseverance give no small measure of resolve to Ms. Quimby.

"That's very inspiring to see what people have been done in the past, and a great inspiration to me," she says. "And I’ve read a lot about them, because in my moments of doubt I need to hear that other people who have tried to create parks also had a lot of pushback, and a lot of challenges, a lot of local resistance. I find it inspiring to know that they overcame that resistance.”

Comments

I'm torn on this with mixed feelings. As a NP lover and someone with ties to Maine, it'd be great to have a NP there. On the other hand, as a conservative who no longer trusts DC politicians, I completely understand the locals hesitance over giving up land.
But what about the donated land being added to Baxter State Park under state control? Would that be a good compromise?

If the citizens of Maine want to preserve their woods and land as it is today, then they should designate it a State Park. The tending of the Park, the staff of the Park, should be paid with Maine taxes, not Federal. (And didn't you publish a similar article just a few months ago?)

Yes, it's time! This will be an economic boon for the region--way more folks visit national than state parks. It will ensure future prosperity for local communities and preserve an American wilderness and recreation area.

The "Adirondacks" greenline scheme mixing restrictions on use of private property with government acquisition has already been thoroughly rejected in Maine. There is no "right time" for these audacious attempts to remove private property rights.

Dottie on September 19, 2011 9:53am: "didn't you publish a similar article just a few months ago?"

Yes. There is a big promotion now to resurrect this plan which has failed since the 1980s when it was first promoted from Washington DC. Quimby says she is much older now, and realizing that the plan has gone nowhere, is pushing to establish her "legacy". Quimby is on the National Park Foundation board and knows Salazar and Jarvis. That is why they went to Maine to try to generate a clamor on Quimby's behalf despite opposition from the governor of Maine, both Senators, and a resolution passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature opposing a National Park and Salazar's self-serving "feasibility study". They are also threatening a unilateral National Monument as what they call "Plan B".

As a native Mainer, I'm very familiar with Baxter State Park. Baxter is much better managed from an ecological perspective than the national parks, so I'd prefer to see this land added on to Baxter. That said, Roxanne has incredible foresight and generosity, and if she feels that the national park system is better for this land, perhaps she sees something that I don't. I'm just incredibly grateful that she has purchased it with the intent of preserving it - with Plum Creek and other timber/investment companies operating in the state of Maine there won't be any undeveloped land left in a few years if we don't work fast to save what we've got.

Quimby is a 60s counter culture radical who wants to abolish a modern natural resources economy, recreation other than wilderness hiking, private property rights, and representative self-government. She knows that the power of the National Park Service imposes the most control for what she wants with the least accountability to local people. It's the closest she can come to controling the land from the grave forever. This is power seeking not generosity. Federal control is not a gift.

The thing is, creating a national park is not removing anybody's private property rights. The land belongs to Roxanne, and as her private property, she has chosen to gift it to the rest of us as a national park. I don't see how that removes private property rights.

Once the government controls the land there are no more private property rights there. She is deliberately trying to exploit private property in order to destroy property rights forever. Quimby does not have a "right" to change the form of government over an entire region and her property ownership does not give her such a "right". Her "gift" would mean giving power to the National Park Service, which is not hers to give.

The plan B tyranny running amuck in America is unending. Let Ms Quimby buy a nice tombstone for her legacy and leave other Maine citizens alone.

Look to the future. As the climate warms and the population grows there is no doubt that this land will eventually be developed. If not preserved in some way it will ultimately be lost to the public.

Sounds like the same arguements people used trying to defeat Grand Teton Nat. park back in the day. It's a "land grab"- it's tramping on "state rights", outsiders are trying to interfere- yada,yada,yada. Most people who are against creating a NP are against it because they somehow think it will have a negative financial inpact on them personally--- how short sighted and selfish.In truth creating a Nat. Park would preserve the land and its beauty for the future of all Americans and create all kinds of jobs. Look at the businesses that have grown up around any Nat. park. Millions of people visit them every single year. Those people want to do thinga like fishing,horse back riding etc. They need places to stay and to eat-- long term jobs while preseving the land. Cutting down the trees is short-sighted and produces only short term profits. look at all the mills shutting down there now. The people of Maine should look long term and do whats best for them and the rest of the country.Thank God there are people like Ms Quimby with the foresight and generosity to look beyond her own selfish interests.

The best way to preserve the north woods is to encourage the business conditions that promote the sustainable growth, harvest, manufacture, and sale of forest products from it.
This has worked for hundreds of years. Until Roxanne Quimby.

Now, there is a race by speculators to liqiudate the forest inventory in anticipation of a lucrative sale to this woman, who has said that she doesn't care what's left on the land, if she can buy it. The traditional uses have been upset by her "grand plan", in that she no longer wants to allow traditional access.

In the past, large landowners grew and harvested trees. The local people and others who wanted to could use the land as they saw fit as long as it didn't intefere with the prime directive of making profit from growing trees.

Most people from away can't seem to accept this one major fact, but it really is that simple. We don-need-no-stinkin-park. We already have one. What we do need is for people that don't care to understand the way things work in rural Maine to leave us to hell alone.

As the climate warms? Didn't you get the memo?

reply to anon of September 20, 2011 - 6:12am: "As the climate warms and the population grows there is no doubt that this land will eventually be developed. If not preserved in some way it will ultimately be lost to the public."

Government "preservation" is to keep people out, prevent their use of the land, and remove private property rights in principle, which are all Quimby's goals for millions of acres of private property across Maine in accordance with the original NPCA agenda. Private property rights are not a "loss to the public", but the loss of our rights is -- in this country the "public interest" is protection of the rights of the individual. We are the "public". Climate hysteria is not an excuse to abolish private property rights and a productive economy.

"Most people who are against creating a NP are against it because they somehow think it will have a negative financial inpact on them personally--- how short sighted and selfish... Thank God there are people like Ms Quimby with the foresight and generosity to look beyond her own selfish interests."

In this country every individual has a right to "life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness" whether or not Big Park denounces our lives as "selfish" and demands submission to it eco-collectivist oppression. We know all about their mentality of For the Good of All. That is the opposite of what government is supposed to be in this country as protector of our rights. Demanding that we "unselfishly" spit in our own faces and sacrificially subject ourselves to this oppressive National Park Service mentality instead of "selfishly" opposing Quimby/Restore power-seeking is perverse.

When I first saw this proposal, I was inspired. It is difficult, initially, to see the downsides. However, when the locals see the parks as restrictive---they are right. The key is Congressional authorizations and cooperative management. Perhaps it would be better to have a "zoned" park, with a preservation zone---defined by core ecological areas and areas of wilderness, a motorized recreation zone---where hunting, snowmobiling, trail-based ORV use, and the more developed zone around communities. What the community needs is the balance of the recognition that comes with having a preservation-oriented National Park in the area with the access provided by National Forests or the Adirondack State Park model.

"On the other side of the East Branch, the east side, Quimby proposes an 80,000-acre national recreation area, which would allow many “traditional” recreational uses, including hunting and snowmobiling, that Quimby would prefer not to see in the national park.
National parks generally don’t allow hunting or ATVs, and snowmobiling is limited. The recreation area is her offer to critics who see her as putting off limits land where they have long hunted, fished and snowmobiled, thanks to permission from previous owners.
George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the state’s largest hunting and fishing organization, views it as an “extraordinary offer.”
He said, “I don’t think any Mainer has ever done anything like it, not even Percival Baxter. It’s just a remarkable thing, something I’ve never seen before and don’t expect to ever see again.”"
http://www.mainewoods.org/2011/06/roxanne-quimby-is-changing-minds/

Quimby should donate the land to the state. Unless the land can be self-sustaining in perpetuity, it should not be taken on in the NPS. The NPS cannot maintain the properties it has. It should not take on any more, and it should probably cull out some units it already has. Until the NPS can keep its current "house" in order, it shouldn't seek to expand.

Anon wrote,
"The thing is, creating a national park is not removing anybody's private property rights. The land belongs to Roxanne, and as her private property, she has chosen to gift it to the rest of us as a national park. I don't see how that removes private property rights."
It doesn't remove private property rights--unless one makes a wildly illogical inference, which seems to be the case in so many of the posts here.

There are additional, historical errors in the article and Quimby's beliefs, too, in the misleading attempts to romanticize the cynical process of insider park politics.

In Maine, George Dorr did not "spend four decades" to "gain national status" for the land at what is now Acadia. According to Dorr's own autobiographical account, government ownership of the land had not been considered until after local people revolted against the wealthy land trust organization which had been using state eminent domain power and other pressure tactics. Dorr said he decided to go to Washington, where they developed the strategy of imposing a National Monument, only because his land trust organization was afraid of losing its state charter in Maine.

Percival Baxter did not trust Washington and the National Park Service -- he bought land for the state park to keep the National Park Service from getting it.

"It doesn't remove private property rights--unless one makes a wildly illogical inference, which seems to be the case in so many of the posts here."

Where the government controls the land there are no private property rights. NPS takes private property away from the owners, and once it has the land, regardless of how it gets it, there is obviously no more private property.

Quimby knows that, too. She is ideologically opposed to private property rights on principle and wants the National Park Service to abolish them across millions of acres. She has repeatedly boasted that her 70,000 acres is intended as a "seed" and a "down payment" for taking over millions of acres of other people's private property.
Quimby told Yankee Magazine: "To me, ownership and private property were the beginning of the end in this country. Once the Europeans came in, drawing lines and dividing things up, things started getting exploited and overconsumed. But a park takes away the whole issue of ownership. It's off the table; we all own it and we all share it. It's so democratic."
A few days ago she told Maine Public Broadcasting that the "sky is the limit" but she wants to limit "discussion" (again confusing her own "rights" with changing the form of government in Maine to Federal control):
"'I still believe that a 3.2 million-acre park is a fabulous idea. I'd like to see a ten million-acre national park!', Quimby said. 'I love national parks and the bigger the better! But in terms of what I can accomplish as an individual I think that there are limitations. And because private property rights and my rights as a landowner figure so importantly into this discussion, I feel best about limiting the conversation to land that I own so that's why I'm talking about 70,000 acres and not 3.2 million but theoretically the sky's the limit!'"

NPS_Survivor wrote "... when the locals see the parks as restrictive---they are right. The key is Congressional authorizations and cooperative management. Perhaps it would be better to have a "zoned" park... What the community needs is the balance of the recognition that comes with having a preservation-oriented National Park in the area with the access provided by National Forests or the Adirondack State Park model."

Yes, we know about the restrictions. It didn't take long to figure out restrictions are intended, that "national significance" and Federal control mean that local people don't count and lose their rights, and that the park lobby has no compunction in doing this to people and lies about it. It also didn't take long to figure out what the Adirondacks are like when the park lobby promoted that for Maine.

Restrictions and prohibitions on land use in the Adirondacks and other Greenlines are devastating to local people. The people there are so bitter and angry -- understandably -- at what is being done to them that when the pressure groups started pushing that scheme for Maine the previous victims warned us what it means in the reality behind the deceptive marketing campaign.

There is no "balance" or "cooperation" in these schemes. They all impose Federal and/or state government restrictions and prohibitions on use of private property and restrict the economy. all by various mechanisms to the greatest extent they can get away with, and the restrictions inevitably become worse over time.

Rights cannot be "balanced" with government-imposed preservationism enforced in law, and there is no "cooperation" possible with those forcibly imposing it. This abuse has a long record, going back at least to the NJ Pine Barrens and the early days of the NY Adirondack "Blue Line". Cape Cod National Seashore is also sometimes mentioned as such a "model", and the notorious Cuyahoga NRA was also claimed during the original campaign to protect the human community.

Trusting the park lobby to protect our rights while imposing its controls in any of its varieties is self-contradictory. It is worse than trusting Lucy to hold the football for Charlie Brown. "This time it's different" is inherently a scam.

I think the issue under lying all of the opposition to this park is that rural Mainers hate and fear PFAs--People From Away. If you aren't a 4th generation Mainiac, then your thoughts, values, and opinions have no value to the self described "True Mainer". These people know that a park will bring in lots of PFAs, who are different in many ways from rural north woods folks, such as being educated, less closed-minded, more affluent, less conservative, some will be snooty, some will be complete city folks who get lost as soon as they step off the pavement, some will be granolas, or what rural Mainers would call hippies (though real hippies no longer exist--real hippies didn't drive volvos and text message their friends in NYC). But most people attracted to a National Park will be very different from your average rural north woods Mainer. And rural Mainers fear anyone different from them.
Look, Maine is the most heavily forested state in the nation. Quimby's donation of 70K or 100K acres is a relative drop in the bucket compared to the vast inventory of trees in Maine. There will still be millions of acres of trees to cut. Old forest is the rarest habitat type in Maine, and will continue to be that way, as the majority of Maine woods are managed for a profit.
Quimby has the right to whatever the hell she wants with her land. If you bought 100,000 acres of land with your money, would you want a bunch of people telling you what you could do with it? She could keep people off it forever, bulldoze it, cover it with trailer parks, etc., but she wants to give it to the people of Maine instead for us to enjoy. How great is that?

Anon wrote, "Where the government controls the land there are no private property rights." Obviously. But if someone donates their land for public enjoyment, that person's "rights" aren't being taken away by the U.S. government. It's equally obvious that the creation of a national park does not imply any "agenda" to "remove private property rights" or to "abolish private property rights." This is nonsense. I imagine the millions of Americans who visit the parks every year are pretty comfortable with private property.

Anon wrote, "Quimby has the right to whatever the hell she wants with her land. If you bought 100,000 acres of land with your money, would you want a bunch of people telling you what you could do with it? She could keep people off it forever, bulldoze it, cover it with trailer parks, etc., but she wants to give it to the people of Maine instead for us to enjoy. How great is that?"
This post highlights the strangeness of the objections to Quimby. It sounds as if people would be happier if she DIDN'T share this land forever with hikers, campers, snowmobilers, hunters, etc. but instead locked it away from others to use.

This post highlights the strangeness of the objections to Quimby. It sounds as if people would be happier if she DIDN'T share this land forever with hikers, campers, snowmobilers, hunters, etc. but instead locked it away from others to use.
I think the objection is that it may be a seed for NPS to step in and perhaps take away many of the traditional uses by acquiring land using eminent domain.

Don't many private property owners in Maine allow people to enter their lands for hunting and other recreational purposes?

http://www.maine.gov/lor/brochures/AccessingPrivateLand_2008.pdf

No one is telling Quimby what to do with her own land as long as she owns it. She does not have a "right" to impose Federal control because she owns land. No one has a "right" to change the form of government over a region of a state whether or not he owns the land.

y_p_w: "I think the objection is that it may be a seed for NPS to step in and perhaps take away many of the traditional uses by acquiring land using eminent domain."

Quimby has for years acknowledged and boasted that she intends her land to be a "seed" for NPS to take over millions of acres more of other people's private property. NPS and its lobbyists not only impose eminent domain, but also block access, interfere outside park boundaries, and constantly push for expanded controls and acquisition in a growing cancer.

"Traditional use" includes what is supposed to be a permanent political and economic system protecting private property rights that Quimby, Restore and NPCA want to destroy and permanently replace with NPS bureaucratic control over millions of acres.

y_p_w: "Don't many private property owners in Maine allow people to enter their lands for hunting and other recreational purposes?"

Yes and this way of life has worked very well. In contrast, Quimby is buying up as much as land as she can in order to impose wilderness "ecosystem restoration" and prevent human use forever. For years she has routinely cancelled camp leases, closed roads, shut down snowmobile trails and more.

Her misanthropic "vision" requires the elimination of private property rights, political and economic freedom, and representative self-government accountable to the people. Her demand to bring in the National Park Service to take over is as close as she can come to imposing from the grave in perpetuity her fanatical misanthropy.

Anon wrote,
"She does not have a 'right' to impose Federal control because she owns land. No one has a 'right' to change the form of government over a region of a state whether or not he owns the land."
Quimby obviously doesn't have the power to "impos[e] Federal control" or "change the form of government"--she's a private citizen! In short, if she were doing something that is outside her rights, she would be breaking the law. What law is Quimby breaking by donating her land to the United States?

Anon wrote,
"In contrast, Quimby is buying up as much as land as she can in order to impose wilderness 'ecosystem restoration' and prevent human use forever."
She's donating it to be a national park and preserve! How could that mean "prevent[ing] human use forever"? It means the exact opposite! A park that would forever keep open the land for camping, backpacking, hiking, fishing, etc. and a preserve for hunting, snowmobiling, etc.

I've done some checking on what the issues are, and it does get complex.

One concern in Maine seems to be that many of the traditional timber concerns are selling out to housing developers. These timber companies were willing to allow recreational users on their property for hunting, snowmobiling, etc if they sought permission. It's the developers who might not understand the local culture, and when they start developing housing the land may be permanently kept from public recreational users.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/03/28/outdoors/burts-bees-founder-quimby-wants-to-donate-national-park/

It sounds like a lot of the rationale was similar to how Point Reyes National Seashore was formed. The ranchers there were worried that their landowners would sell out to housing developers rather than lease their land long term. One impetus was that if the federal government took over, they might protect the ranches by leasing back the land for the foreseeable future.

That's right. The entry of land developers into the Maine backcountry is really the other side of the story. Although there has been a substantial downturn in the real estate market recently, what most of them propose is development, too, but in the mold of extensive---rural residential---conversions, first on lakes---like you see in western New Jersey and the Poconos, then like Deltona, Palm Coast, and North Port, Florida. Undoubtedly, most of these homes would be second homes or vacation homes. If folks think a park creates wholesale transformation of ways-of-life, access to land, and environmental changes, residential development does all that AND A WHOLE LOT MORE. I grew up in Florida and have seen it firsthand. Unfortunately, once the scenic beauty of the Maine Woods was identified by Plum Creek, et al., it didn't take long for them to apply the same economics to Moosehead Lake that has been applied to Lake Tahoe, Lake Wallenpaupack, Lake of the Woods, etc. It will be promoted in urban areas (NYC, Boston, Hartford, Philadelphia, etc.) as that "unspoiled" wilderness you've always sought, and more PFAs will arrive than you can imagine.
In stark terms, do you want a park/forest/recreation area or a resort community? You will get one---or the other? And you might get both!

I sense a some inherent paradoxes in "Anon's" statements. If Ms. Quimby purchased the land, she has all the private property rights she needs to block access, cancel camp leases, deny access, etc. Bravo for those rights. Non-owners don't have the right to access her lands without paying for the privilege or getting specific permission. She also has the property right to convey, sell, transfer, etc. the land to any party she wants---without restriction. If she has imposed the level of restriction stated on the land, having the land in NPS or USFS management will actual open access. It might not be unrestricted access by any means (e.g. snowmobile, airplane, ORV, etc.) but I defy anyone to find a park that has "Keep Out" signs posted for anything but prevention-of-resource-damage reasons. They aren't generally fenced, and they certainly aren't tightly patrolled. You might have to canoe, horseback, or walk to get there, but you won't find the keep out signs.

"What law is Quimby breaking by donating her land to the United States?"

The National Park Service cannot establish a new area without Congressional authorization. Quimby does not have a "right" to do that on her own and the National Park Service has no right to accept it. Government does not act by "right"; individuals do. That is why we have a constitutional form of government limiting government action.

Morally, no one has a "right" to change the form of goverment into one more dictatorial. That kind of power is not hers to give to the National Park Service.

"I think the issue under lying all of the opposition to this park is that rural Mainers hate and fear PFAs--People From Away. If you aren't a 4th generation Mainiac, then your thoughts, values, and opinions have no value to the self described "True Mainer". These people know that a park will bring in lots of PFAs,..."

This is a smear that is non-responsive to the objections to National Park Service control.

As a factual matter there are many people from many different places who own property or live in Maine. People enjoy what they have and don't want it taken away by outside political forces like the National Park Service and its pressure groups. It is terribly arrogant to decide that you like an area so much that you think you can take it over for your own purposes and then blame the victims for being an ignorant subclass of humanity in comparison with your allegedly superior judgment on behalf of some allegedly "higher" standard.

"Anon wrote, 'Where the government controls the land there are no private property rights.' Obviously. But if someone donates their land for public enjoyment, that person's 'rights' aren't being taken away by the U.S. government. It's equally obvious that the creation of a national park does not imply any 'agenda' to 'remove private property rights' or to 'abolish private property rights.' This is nonsense. I imagine the millions of Americans who visit the parks every year are pretty comfortable with private property."

The National Park Service takes property from people. Quimby's "seed" is intended to establish Federal control over millions of acres of other people's private property.

Once the National Park Service has the land, regardless of how it gets it, there is no more private property in the entire region. The political and economic system based on protection of private property rights is gone forever. It is replaced by a system of complete government control over all the land. That is the elimination of private property rights.

That has been the agenda of NPCA, Restore and Quimby for decades. It is not new. They want to eliminate industry and eliminate private property rights in principle over millions of acres of private property in Maine. They have said so. Quimby has been quoted directly saying she is opposed to private property and that she wants to use a National Park to eliminate it previously on this page. That most visitors to National Parks don't realize that or the fact that the National Park Service uses eminent domain to seize property does not mean that isn't the agenda of the pressure groups and a real threat to property owners now in the future. There have already been more than enough problems with this at Acadia and the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

"Anon wrote, 'In contrast, Quimby is buying up as much as land as she can in order to impose wilderness 'ecosystem restoration' and prevent human use forever.' She's donating it to be a national park and preserve! How could that mean "prevent[ing] human use forever"? It means the exact opposite! A park that would forever keep open the land for camping, backpacking, hiking, fishing, etc. and a preserve for hunting, snowmobiling, etc."

Quimby and Restore want government imposed wilderness or the equivalent specifically for "ecosytem restoration". Allowing a handful of hikers with the ability, resources and inclination to spend days or weeks walking into areas no one else can get to is not human use of the land by any ordinary meaning of the term. It is a ban on human civilization.

Whether or not Quimby were to get restrictions to that full degree in the beginning the pressure groups are constantly lobbying to further restrict access and recreation -- they hate anything with a gasoline engine, hate inholdings and always want "buffer zones" and expansion -- resulting in a constant uphill battle against well-funded lobbyists and Washington insiders that no one should bave to be subjected to.

The National Park Service and its lobby have a record. People are finding out and the chickens have come home to roost. Normal people in Maine do want to be pushed into living under that and the increasing Federal control and arbitrary bureaucrat crack downs that comes with it. Political and economic freedom matter to people personally. People in rural Maine like the way of life they already have and don't want more restrictions and unending political threats to make it even worse just because the park lobby wants what we have.

"I've done some checking on what the issues are, and it does get complex. One concern in Maine seems to be that many of the traditional timber concerns are selling out to housing developers. These timber companies were willing to allow recreational users on their property for hunting, snowmobiling, etc if they sought permission. It's the developers who might not understand the local culture, and when they start developing housing the land may be permanently kept from public recreational users."

That "concern" is a myth that has been promulgated by the park lobby as part of its PR campaign for decades. The "complexity" is not what you have been led to believe. There are not many homes across 10 million acres, and where there are homes in more settled townships there is nothing wrong with that. Far more land has been put under consevation easements than has been sold for homes.

The bigger problem in this realm is that there are already too many state restrictions killing the economy and property rights. People's homes are hated only by the park lobby because it wants the land. That is why they constantly demonize "second homes" trying to fan envy and resentment, etc.

The Plum Creek plan in particular is extremely low density, intended to evolve in accordance with a well-thought out plan over 30 years or more, and includes 400,000 acres of permanent conservation land not subject to development.

"A ban on human civilization?" Really? "hate anything with a gasoline engine?" Hate? Anything with a gasoline engine? This language is so hyperbolic and over-the-top, it doesn't bear even a nodding acquaintance with reality.

One of the several anonymous posters said:
"Quimby and Restore want government imposed wilderness or the equivalent
specifically for "ecosytem restoration". Allowing a handful of hikers
with the ability, resources and inclination to spend days or weeks
walking into areas no one else can get to is not human use of the land
by any ordinary meaning of the term. It is a ban on human civilization.
"

Where do people come up with this? When did the willingness to use your legs become an elitist hobby only indulged in by snobs? Who doesn't have the "resources" to walk? Last I checked a pair of shoes (or even some good hiking boots and a backpack) is quite a bit cheaper than a snow mobile or atv. A lot more walking will do us good. If walking isn't "ordinary," we have a pretty big problem with our "civilization." Its time to toughen up. This is getting embarrasing. Also, while were busy toughening up, let's put an end to the lie that having to walk means you don't have access.
There's plenty of legitimate and useful criticisms of how an NPS presence might effect existing cultural and social structures/arrangements on a local scale. The fear that people might end up doing a little more walking is not one of these legitimate criticisms.

Anonymous:
The National Park Service cannot establish a new area without Congressional authorization.
That's not entirely correct. A National Monument can be established by Presidential decree. It's not the preferred way, but it happens from time to time. Also - many of the new National Monuments created by decree in recent years haven't been administered by the National Park Service.

Now funding (which requires Congressional action) is a different issue.

Quimby and Restore's misanthropy demanding to impose the elimination of civilized human use other than primitive hiking on millions of acres of private property in Maine is a ban on human civilization. They demand in general that people subordinate themselves to nature, giving up modern civilization on hehalf of a primitive living in "balance with nature" and "population controls". They are radical ecologists, not park recreationists.

NPS and its pressure groups are constantly trying to get rid of motorized recreation in the parks, and constantly push for more Federal Wilderness designations, Salazar's "wildland" equivalent, "roadless areas", etc. on Federal lands in order to ban all roads and motorized vehicles. Their notorious attempts to drive out inholders and expand through "buffer zone" and beyond are a matter of record.

"A National Monument can be established by Presidential decree. It's not the preferred way, but it happens from time to time. Also - many of the new National Monuments created by decree in recent years haven't been administered by the National Park Service. Now funding (which requires Congressional action) is a different issue."

Presidential abuse of the Antiquities Act to impose National Monuments is notorious, but it doesn't create a "National Park" without further shennanigans (including transerring to NPS and the funding, which is still required). But this scenario nevertheless is in fact a political loophole for imposing at least a de facto National Park, illustrating the deterioration of limits on government power.

Such 'ends justifies the means' political maneuvering and abuse of power doesn't give anyone a "right" to change the form of government over an area previously privately owned within a state -- except in the minds of those who think our "rights" have no basis in anything other than whatever government chooses to allow. Nevertheless it does happen and has in fact has been cited by both Quimby and Salazar as their "Plan B" for a Federal takeover in Maine exploiting a Quimby "gift". (It is interesting that Acadia was established by this corrupt method of insider maneuvering bypassing objections from the local people.)

There is a clear anti-federal slant to "Anon's" postings, one that anyone who lived through the creation of Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, Lake Mead, Lake Powell, Delaware Water Gap, Acadia, Olympic, etc. would clearly understand and commiserate with. However, in most of those cases there was also a counterweighing powerful arguments that
1. Many more Americans would benefit---and have benefited---from the creation of those reservoirs or parks than local residents have suffered, either from power generation, recreation, or tourism. Many parks were envisioned as development projects and supported by powerful lobbies (railroads, roadbuilding, etc.), NOT the environmental lobby.
2. Local residents are bought out, paid fair-market value (with some notable exceptions) for their land and improvements.
3. Congress is sensitive to resident issues, and writes specific resident protection, "willing-seller" and "lease-back" provisions into enabling legislation. The key is for local residents to speak clearly to their elected officials about what will help them.
4. Private residential lands are most often closed to public access. Try to get into hunting club or extensive gated community lands in Virginia, Florida, or Pennsylvania. Safety and liability concerns and "club/owner privilege" effectively keep non-owners out.
It is hard to be rationale about this type of change.

I personally thank the author for pointing out the difference between Ms. Quimby's proposal and that of RESTORE. They are two very different proposals. Ms. Quimby owns the land she is offering up as national park acreage. RESTORE owns not an acre but proposes a 3.2 million acre park with nothing to put up for ante.
I am a life-long Mainer and I applaud Roxanne Quimby for having the foresight to purchase all these parcels that piece together into a great tract adjacent to Baxter State Park. No one else has been able to maneuver all this, but Ms. Quimby was able to do it. And now she offers it all up. I am not sure what the problem is for some Maine people who oppose her offer.
If the people of Maine stand behind Quimby's offer and suggest multi-use for a portion of the acreage, I think the National Park people would listen. People of Maine: wake up. The likes of Plum Creek should have awoken all of us to realize what an out of state corporation can do to our Maine woods. What acreage they don't clear cut they'll develop if they can. And then what will we have? If we're smart, we'll have the 70,000 acres that Roxanne is offering for national park. There are some beautiful streams east of Baxter: the Wassataquoik stream and the East Branch of the Penobscot River both flow through that area that Roxanne owns.
Wake up Maine and stand behind Roxanne Quimby this time.

"The fear that people might end up doing a little more walking is not one of these legitimate criticisms."

Quimby and Restore's misanthropic ideology and demands to remove private property rights and industry for massive government-imposed wilderness "eco-system restoration" over millions of acres does not mean people only "might do a little walking".

[i]"I personally thank the author for pointing out the difference between Ms. Quimby's proposal and that of RESTORE. They are two very different proposals. Ms. Quimby owns the land she is offering up as national park acreage. RESTORE owns not an acre but proposes a 3.2 million acre park with nothing to put up for ante."

There is no difference between the Quimby and Restore agendas. Quimby has been collaborating with Restore for years, leaving the Restore board of directors only because she knows how much Restore is despised in rural Maine. She is trying to moderate her public image while still collaborating with Restore and supporting their common goals.

Quimby has recently chided Restore only for not having what she calls an "executive plan". She has boasted that her "gift" of 70,000 acres is intended as a "seed" and a "down payment" for the rest of the millions of acres of other people's private property Restore and Quimby want the government to take over. This is in accordance with the original plans from Washington DC almost 25 years ago as a strategic priority for the National Park Service and its lobby to move against private property in New England.

Even with Quimby's 70,000 acre tactical shell game, the current political promotions in Maine are not restricted to a "mere" 70,000 acres, and Quimby herself said a few days ago, "I'd like to see a ten million-acre national park!" and "the sky's the limit".

Quimby is not making a "generous" offer. She is throwing a lot of money around and is politically playing her land to try to buy public policy for government control over as much land as she can for her own political agenda. She has a long record as a power-seeking 60s counter culture radical and wilderness fanatic, admittedly seeking to make a "legacy" for herself. She wants to eliminate private property as such and has said so. The anti-private property rights, anti-private industry change in form of government she is trying to impose on Maine is not a "gift".
[/i]

"The likes of Plum Creek should have awoken all of us to realize what an out of state corporation can do to our Maine woods. What acreage they don't clear cut they'll develop if they can."

The Plum Creek plan is extremely low density, intended to evolve in accordance with a well-though out plan over 30 years or more. It includes 400,000 acres of permanent conservation land not subject to development -- far more than the Quimby seed of 70,000 acres. The pressure groups are trying to stop the Plum Creek plan on its own property because they want all the land under Federal control. They hate and resent other people's private homes and the owners' personal enjoyment of them in privacy under private property rights. Even a conservation exaction of 400,000 acres isn't enough for them.

It's telling, Anonymous, that you submit your comments anonymously.
If you had the money Ms Quimby has and bought a bunch of land with it, that land would be yours to do with as you wished. Sounds like that might be something involving gasoline engines or civilization -- it's a little hard to infer from your screeds. You could give it to your heirs when you died, too, and then they could do with it what they wished. You could log it, you could turn it into subdivisions, you give it to the state of Maine, you could give it to the federal government, you could make it into a golf course -- whatever. This is her land.