Friday, August 26, 2016

National monument designation triggers clashing political reactions

President’s Obama’s creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument drew passionate responses on all sides Wednesday from political leaders in Maine. Two members of the state’s congressional delegation, Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree and independent Sen. Angus King, expressed support for Obama’s designation of about 87,600 acres in the Katahdin region as the latest national monument. Roxanne Quimby, the co-founder of Burt’s Bees who has amassed considerable land holdings in Maine’s North Woods, recently donated the land to the federal government and it became part of this week’s 100th anniversary celebration of the National Park Service. Critics of Quimby’s proposal have often expressed concerns about the loss of access to land for hunting, snowmobiling and ATV riding, as well as potential ramifications for the region’s forest products industry. King had joined Maine’s two Republican delegation members, Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, in expressing strong reservations last year about a potential monument designation in a letter to federal officials. King subsequently helped organize a visit to the region by National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, but had not publicly endorsed the monument proposal. On Wednesday, however, King said he believes the designation “will be a significant benefit to Maine and the region” based on the binding commitments built into the deed transfer from Quimby. Poliquin, a monument opponent whose 2nd District includes the Katahdin region, cited non-binding votes in several Katahdin region towns as well as the state Legislature opposing the national monument. But he urged the Obama administration to work to support the state’s forestry industry and pledged to work with federal officials on job creation. “While opposed to a unilateral decision, ignoring the votes in the local towns, the Maine Legislature, and Congress, I will continue to work with everyone to move this project forward...Similarly, Collins charged that the president had bypassed Congress, adding, “He should not have used his executive authority given the objection lodged by the Maine Legislature, the lack of consensus among Mainers who live in the area, and the absence of congressional approval.” “These questions and many more will have to be addressed over the months and years ahead. This is typical of designations under the Antiquities Act, and is one of the reasons I have twice voted to express my concern with this unchecked presidential authority,” Collins said in a written statement...more

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