Creating A New National Park From Private Land

The founder of Burt's Bees is buying land in hopes of creating a new national park in Maine, but locals disagree with the plan to ban snowmobiling, hunting and all-terrain vehicles on 50,000 of her acres.

Conservationists hope to create Maine Woods National Park that would be the size of Yellowstone and Yosemite combined. Residents of Millinocket, the town closest to Baxter State Park at the heart of the proposed national park, "fear that turning timberland into parkland will further cut timber jobs, strip them of their accustomed hunting grounds and prevent the development of resorts and snowmobile parks they see as one way out of the downward economic spiral."

Roxanne Quimby explains that when timber companies own the land, access is generally unrestricted for hunters, ATVs, and snowmobiles. So the only way to conserve land is for private property owners like her to purchase it. She says, "As a private property owner I don't have to let anybody on it. [Private ownership] is becoming the alternative to public land."

For the moment, the conservation will continue to be ad hoc, with individuals like Quimby, groups like the Appalachian Mountain Trail Club and state-private partnerships raising the money for individual tracts. These might be combined in a national park, a national forest or a state preserve.

Full Story: In Maine, a Public Park in Search of Public Support

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