National monuments are under attack by the current President, but one would think that the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine would be safe. It was private land assembled by Roxanne Quimby, who made zillions out of Burt’s Bees. She donated the land (worth $60 million) to the government along with $ 20 million to support it. Who could possibly be against such a thing?
According to Edward Helmore writing in the Guardian, the Governor of Maine, Paul LePage. Supposedly the problem is that it takes land away from the forestry industry, even though it was bought from forestry companies who had already logged it out. The President made a big deal of it while campaigning; according to the Portland Press Herald:
Trump railed against Obama’s creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument during a campaign stop in Bangor on Oct. 15. Speaking to a fired-up crowd of more than 3,500, Trump accused Obama of making the designation with “no consideration” for local concerns, impacts on the forestry industry or opposition from lawmakers. Trump pledged that, under his administration “we’re going to protect the right of people and the people of Maine to use their own land.”
Except that is exactly what the owner, Roxanne Quimby, was doing: using her own land the way she wanted to.
Now LePage is using his power to ensure that there are no signs, no directions, no information on how to get there.
Lucas St Clair, whose family acquired the land using the Burt’s Bees fortune, told the Guardian that the governor’s refusal to erect signs was “spiteful and destructive”. “It’s one of the most irresponsible things he could do for the region,” St Clair added. “To place signs to show the way to the national monument is a simple thing. It could even be [done with] private money. But he has refused to allow that to happen. It’s a sophomoric and petty way to behave.”
And in the age of google maps, probably useless. And even people who were against it being declared a monument are upset.
Jon Ellis, a local business owner, said LePage was out of step. “To my knowledge, Governor LePage has never even set foot [here] and yet he insults our region by calling it a ‘mosquito area’,” Ellis said in a statement reported by the Associated Press. “The monument has brought new energy to our towns and helped unify the region.”
We have noted previously how parks and national monuments are huge economic draws, tourist attractions and job creators. Yet out of spite, this one may be lost, even though it will be probably decades before it can be logged again. And given who the President and the Secretary of the Interior are, we can expect the worst.