Governor Paul R. LePage today reiterated his opposition to a proposal from out-of-state liberals to create a North Woods national monument in the Katahdin region. The Governor’s criticism follows a recent news release from U.S. Senator Angus King, who is inviting the head of the National Park Service to Maine.
The visit, according to the release, will take place Monday, May 16 with NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis “to discuss the possible designation of privately owned land in the Katahdin region as a national monument and to hear directly from Maine residents about the proposal.”
The Office of the Governor did not receive any information regarding the announcement prior to it being made public. “I think notifying the Governor’s Office would have been appropriate,” said Governor LePage. “They seem like they have already made up their minds. Town after town has voted against federal control of the North Woods, and the Legislature passed my bill to limit federal jurisdiction over a national monument. Clearly, they don’t want an open dialogue on this issue.”
Governor LePage and residents from rural communities have opposed creation of a national monument on several grounds, including its reliance on scenic views in Baxter State Park and wildly unsubstantiated economic projections. “Angus King and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which is organizing attendance at the meeting in Orono and offering to bus proponents from Southern Maine to it, are ignoring the will of Mainers,” said the Governor. “The fix is in.”
There are major financial problems with the proposal, as well. A recently issued National Park Service news release reveals an $11.9 billion nationwide federal maintenance backlog for Fiscal Year 2015, $440 million more than the previous year.
According to the National Park Service, “Deferred maintenance is necessary work – performed on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, visitor centers, trails and campgrounds – that has been delayed for more than one year. Aging facilities, increasing use of park facilities and scarce resources contribute to the growing backlog.” The National Park service noted that “the annual bill for maintenance in America’s national parks is still almost twice as much as is appropriated.”
“The National Park Service, by their own admission, cannot adequately maintain our existing public lands with existing resources,” said Governor LePage. “It defies logic that we would create a new national monument right next to Baxter State Park when the federal government is facing a massive deficit that amounts to over $58,000 for every man, women and child in the United States. Rather than creating a new, unsupported national monument in Maine, the focus should be on maintaining the lands we already own.”
National Park Service Deferred Maintenance backlog for Maine (FY 2015):
• Saint Croix Island International Historic Site $555,237. Source: National Park Service Press Release (Feb. 5, 2016)