President Obama designated a new national monument today covering over 87,000 acres of forest in the wilderness of Maine despite protests from conservatives.
The Katahdin Woods and Waters monument adjacent to Baxter State Park includes the East Branch of the Penobscot River and views of Maine's tallest mountain, Katahdin. The land is cherished by Native Americans, and its history includes visits by naturalist Henry David Thoreau and President Theodore Roosevelt.
"Katahdin Woods and Waters' daytime scenery is awe-inspiring, from the breadth of its mountain-studded landscape, to the channels of its free-flowing streams with their rapids, falls, and quiet water, to its vantages for viewing the Mount Katahdin massif, the 'greatest mountain,'" Obama said in his proclamation.
Not everyone is pleased about the designation of the nation's newest national monument, including Maine Governor Paul LePage himself.
The possible designation of the Katahdin Woods has been pending for a long time and in more recent months the campaign against it became increasingly nasty.
We covered it here at the time so you may recall that Governor LePage instructed his staff to track down conservationists who supported the designation of the woods and send them threatening letters.
Governor LePage and other local conservatives opposed federal protection of the land for the usual reasons, like fear of the big scary government, but LePage also had plans to open up the land to mining operations.
LePage responded to today's news in a manner you might expect.
“That’s one way to get out of paying taxes to the state of Maine,” LePage said. “It’s also an ego play for Roxanne Quimby and Senator Angus King. It’s sad that rich, out-of-state liberals can team up with President Obama to force a national monument on rural Mainers who do not want it. As I’ve said all along, the fix is in.”
Yes, the fix is in. LePage's dream of mining under Mount Katahdin is never going to happen now.
— US Dept of Interior (@Interior) August 24, 2016
LePage framed his pitch for mining under the mountain as an anti-poverty program that would enrich the locals, but we all know locals never would have seen a dime of that money.
The designation of the monument will actually create several hundred local jobs for the National Park Service.