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Environment and Outdoors

Maine's Congressional Delegation Speaks Out Against North Woods National Monument Proposal

WASHINGTON — Members of Maine's Congressional Delegation say they're concerned to learn that President Barack Obama plans to consider designating 100,000 acres of privately owned land in northern Maine as a national monument.

The land the delegation is referring to is owned by Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., which manages Roxanne Quimby's land holdings. It's located near Baxter State Park in the Katahdin Region.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine, along with 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, wrote a letter to the president Friday expressing their concerns with the national monument designation idea, which they say they recently learned about from Elliotsville Plantation board Chairman Lucas St. Clair, Quimby's son. St. Clair says he's discussing the possibility of a national monument designation with the Department of Interior.

"This concerns us because residents in the Katahdin Region have the most to gain or lose from federal land encroaching on their doorstep, and it is clear that deep divisions remain," the congressional delegates say in their letter. They say a national monument designation could antagonize communities that are divided over the issue.

Elliotsville Plantation has offered to donate the land for a national park and recreation area, but that proposal has been controversial. While one recent poll indicates support in the region for the idea, residents of Medway and East Millinocket rejected it in nonbinding straw votes earlier this year.

The congressional delegates say the Katahdin Region, hard hit by the loss of paper industry jobs, is in dire need of economic help, but they say a national monument designation could burden the region with regulations that discourage investments in industries that create jobs.