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Environment and Outdoors

Leaked Report Advises Trump To Open Maine Monument To Commercial Forestry

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press/file
n this Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017 photo, the Penobscot River's East Branch flows through the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument near Patten, Maine.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke advised President Donald Trump to open Maine’s national monument to commercial forestry, according to a leaked summary of Zinke’s report to the president.

Zinke said the executive order creating Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument “should be amended, through the use of appropriate authority, including lawful exercise of the President’s discretion … to promote a healthy forest through active timber management,” according to the summary, which the Washington Post published late Sunday.

“Active timber management” typically refers to the cutting of trees for commercial wood usage. Examples of that usage include the manufacture of a host of wood products, including wood pellets, paper goods and housing materials.

Several environmental groups and Maine Attorney General Janet Mills promised to sue to stop the elimination or significant alteration of 27 monuments Trump ordered Zinke to review in April, including Maine’s.

It was not immediately clear how those threatening to sue will respond to Trump’s alterations of Katahdin Woods. Trump said he ordered the review because he felt that previous administrations had used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make land grabs.

He tasked Zinke with determining the legality of monument creations or expansions since 1996.

Lucas St. Clair, whose family donated the monument’s 87,562 acres east of Baxter State Park to the federal government in August 2016, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment sent late Sunday.

St. Clair has said he has no plans to sue the Trump administration but would cooperate with those who do.

Trump’s actions end speculation fueled by Zinke announcement on Aug. 24 that he had finished his review and sent a report to the White House.

A source briefed by Zinke speaking that day had said Zinke advised Trump to keep Katahdin Woods’ boundaries intact, while making “some changes on allowable uses.”

Those new uses could include permitting demonstrations of historic logging practices, another source said.

Zinke also advised the president that the other 26 should remain monuments but urged Trump to shrink a handful of them, according the Associated Press.

Representing the first significant federal presence in Maine’s North Woods, the monument, to some, is a symbol of the decades-old fight between environmentalists and forest-products-industry stalwarts in a region hard hit by the loss of its paper manufacturing industry.

Burt’s Bees entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby led the push to create a national park in the North Woods in 2011, a decade after she began buying parcels east of Baxter State Park.

Quimby had hoped to donate the land for a national park by 2016, but Maine’s congressional representatives never introduced legislation to do that. Her son, St. Clair, took command of her campaign in 2012 and his lobbyist began pitching a monument proposal to federal officials in 2015.

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.