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Interior Secretary Doesn’t Call For Shrinking Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument

Susan Sharon
Maine Public
The Orrin Stream, in the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, seen in May 2017.

One day after President Donald Trump signed a proclamation to dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his final recommendations for other monuments around the country, including Katahdin Woods and Waters here in Maine.

Zinke is proposing to downsize more than half a dozen other monuments. But he’s recommending that Katahdin Woods and Waters’ 87,500 acres be kept intact.

In his report, he highlights the fact that although commercial timbering is not “typically allowed” in the National Park System, there is limited authority to “conserve certain objects.” He then suggests changing the monument’s proclamation — Zinke would have it “promote a healthy forest through active timber management.”

Cathy Johnson of the Natural Resources Council of Maine calls those two ideas “internally inconsistent.”

“Because on the one hand it says they need to follow the provisions of the Antiquities Act, which would not allow commercial timber harvesting, and then on the other hand they say that they want to prioritize a healthy forest through ‘active timber management.’ So, it’s very unclear what they intend to do,” she says.

In his recommendation, Zinke goes on to say that a management plan should be developed to “prioritize public access, infrastructure upgrades, traditional use, cultural use and hunting and fishing rights,” but there is no further explanation included.

Final action will be left up to the president. Johnson says if the proclamation is amended to allow commercial timber harvesting, her organization will likely take legal action.