AUGUSTA, Maine - Supporters of a proposal to establish a new national park east of Baxter State park say their cause is gaining steam after a group of 200 business owners fired off a letter to Maine's Congressional Delegation this week.
The letter cites the jobs and economic benefits such a park could bring to an area of the state that's suffered from a lack of jobs since the region's paper industry folded.
This week, the Bangor City Council also threw its support behind the 150,000-acre Maine Woods National Park proposal. Councilor Sean Faircloth says the area is losing population as residents are forced to find work elsewhere, and this is the best plan currently on the table.
"If there are other terrific opportunities we should put those on the table and support them," Faircloth said, "but this one is sound, well studied, and really could be a dramatic positive for northern-eastern Maine - and, boy, do we need it." Bangor would then be just over an hour away from two different national parks.
But the park proposal has faced significant opposition from residents who fear a loss of rights and control over some of the region's prime forest land.
Supporters of the plan say they'd like to see the issue pushed forward before the next presidential election cycle.