Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Maine Woods National Park idea faces challenges

 FILE - In this March 14, 2011 file photo, conservationist Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burt's Bees cosmetics company, poses in Portland, Maine. Qui...
 In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, a snowmobile is parked outside a gate on land owned by conservationist Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burt's Bees cosmet...
 FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2011 file photo, the East Branch of the Penobscot River is seen near land owned by conservationist Roxanne Quimby, the founde...

Burts Bees Maine

FILE - In this March 14, 2011 file photo, conservationist Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burt's Bees cosmetics company, poses in Portland, Maine. Qui...

Burts Bees Woods

In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, a snowmobile is parked outside a gate on land owned by conservationist Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burt's Bees cosmet...

Burts Bees Woods

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2011 file photo, the East Branch of the Penobscot River is seen near land owned by conservationist Roxanne Quimby, the founde...

A wealthy conservationist, Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burt's Bees cosmetics, has some convincing to do if she's to sell her idea of another national park in Maine.
All four members of Maine's congressional delegation have expressed some level of concern about the proposal by Quimby to turn over more than 70,000 acres (28,000 hectares) to the National Park Service.
The Park Service finds the idea intriguing, especially since it thinks people in the Northeast have fewer parks than other areas of the country. The park's acreage would be roughly double the size of Maine's Acadia National Park, which draws more 2 million visitors a year.
But it's Congress that would have the final say. And the project wouldn't even make it out of the starting gate without support of the home-state delegation.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, said she's open to the park idea, as long as the needs of local residents and industries are taken into account. Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe both expressed misgivings about federal control of so much land in northern Maine.
Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat who grew up in Millinocket _ the town closest to the wooded acreage _ said he wants answers about the impact on communities and businesses before taking a position.
Quimby, who made roughly $350 million when she sold Burt's Bees, has been buying land for conservation for several years. Her idea of a Maine Woods National Park would utilize her vast acreage to the east of Baxter State Park, and would include a visitor center dedicated to Henry David Thoreau.
Acknowledging sportsmen's complaints about restrictions on the land, she would offer another 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) to be managed as a state park, with hunting and snowmobiling allowed.
Mark Leathers, Quimby's land manager in Maine, said he's been getting positive feedback, especially about the idea of a giveback to sportsmen in exchange for the national park.
And the Portland Press Herald threw its support behind Quimby's concept, saying that changing ownership of the North Woods means people can't count on continued recreational use. "People who complain that a national park would change the way land has been used miss the point. That's changing already," the newspaper said.
But there are still plenty of detractors.
"There's always going to be people that think national parks are great. This area is not one of them," said Gene Conlogue, town manager in Millinocket. The 4,500 residents in Millinocket are firmly against Quimby's idea because they fear government intrusion would outweigh any benefits, Conlogue said.
Maine has a long tradition of private ownership of the state's vast North Woods, a wilderness that's been managed as a "working forest" with logging operations that serve the state's paper mills. Traditionally, the vast acreage was made available to hunters, trappers, snowmobilers and ATV operators.
But Maine's paper industry has fallen on hard times, with mills being sold and land changing hands. There's no guarantee that new owners are going to preserve access to the land.
Quimby acknowledges that she has some obstacles to overcome. For starters, the creation of a national park requires congressional approval, and that won't happen without support of the Maine delegation.
As for the National Park Service, it's interested in Quimby's proposal but there are fiscal realities as well. For example, Congress authorized the purchase of the Ronald Reagan boyhood home in Illinois in 2002; 10 years later, the park service is still awaiting funding, said David Barna, spokesman for the National Park Service.


Updated : 2021-10-26 16:12 GMT+08:00