Proposed Maine national park on hold

A landowner wants to donate 75,000 acres east/southeast of Mount Katahdin for a national park, but opposition remains strong.

The New York Times has a fascinating article today on the fight to create a national park just east/southeast of Maine's Mount Katahdin. Under a long-standing proposal, the 75,000-acre park would allow minimalist activities such as hiking and camping, but would be bordered by an equally-sized recreation area where hunting and snowmobiling would be allowed.

The landowner, Roxanne Quimby (co-founder of the Burt's Bees skincare line), has been trying to donate the acreage to the government for years to create such a park. However, the process is being slowed by local animosity toward Quimby herself and a reluctance to give the federal government jurisdiction in a famously ornery and independent region of the state. Plus, as the Times reminds us, it's actually very difficult to create national parks:

Consider this: Since Congress named Yellowstone the first national park in 1872, it has conferred this prized title on only 58 other sites. And most, including the Grand Canyon, received lesser designations, like national monument, long before they officially became parks. The most recent national park — Pinnacles, in California — was so designated in January, after being named a national monument in 1908.

It's a complicated issue, filled with economic ramifications, conservation concerns, and personal grudges. The whole NYT piece is well worth a read.