Today, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, President Obama designated the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument encompassing awe-inspiring mountains, forests, and waters of north-central Maine. Building on the Administration’s commitment to protecting our land, water and wildlife for future generations, this designation will permanently protect significant natural, scientific, and historic and cultural resources, wildlife habitat, and one of the most pristine watersheds in the northeast, ensuring that present and future generations are able to enjoy these lands.
The new national monument – which will be managed by the National Park Service – will protect approximately 87,500 acres, including the stunning East Branch of the Penobscot River and a portion of the Maine Woods that is rich in biodiversity and known for its outstanding opportunities to hike, canoe, hunt, fish, snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski. In addition to protecting spectacular geology, significant biodiversity and recreational opportunities, the new monument will help support climate resiliency in the region. The protected area – together with the neighboring Baxter State Park to the west – will ensure that this large landscape remains intact, bolstering the forest’s resilience against the impacts of climate change.
Following years of support from many local and state elected officials, tribal leaders, businesses and members of the public across the state, this designation will build on the robust tradition of growing the park system through private philanthropy, and will reinforce the need to continue protecting our great outdoors as we enter the second century of the National Park Service. The land has been donated to the Federal Government by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby’s foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., facilitated by the National Park Foundation as part of its Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks. In addition to the donation of the land, the approximately $100 million gift includes $20 million to supplement federal funds for initial park operational needs and infrastructure development at the new monument, and a pledge of another $20 million in future philanthropic support.
Studies have shown that every dollar we invest in our national parks generates $10 for the national economy, most of which stays in the local communities, and our national parks, forests and other public lands attract visitors from all over the world, fueling local economies and supporting an estimated $646 billion national outdoor economy. Maine’s biggest national park, Acadia, which began as a national monument designated in 1916 by President Wilson with lands donated to the Federal Government, was the nation’s ninth most visited national park last year. In 2015, Acadia National Park attracted close to 3 million visitors, who spent an estimated $247.9 million in local communities. In addition to continuing to support traditional recreational activities such as snowmobiling and hunting, the new national monument will increase public access, help generate local and regional economic activity, and complement additional economic development efforts in the region.