Maine: Park plan may be headed for Congress

Associated Press
The Press Herald

Maine 12/19/03 - The leader of a move to create a federal park in Maine's north woods says the cause is gaining momentum and the time is near to take the plan to Washington.

Jym St. Pierre, the Maine director of Restore: The North Woods, said his goal is to persuade Congress to examine the park proposal and issue its own study. He said that would be the first step needed to create a park.

"We've been meeting with the congressional delegation and representatives from other states," St. Pierre said. "They say, 'Show us that there's a lot of public interest.' I think we're about there."

St. Pierre said supporters have gathered 100,000 signatures in support of the proposal and gained the backing of some of Hollywood's biggest names. Roxanne Quimby, the wealthy founder of Burt's Bees, has been buying up thousands of acres of Maine land intended for a park.

Proponents envision a park that would cover about 3.2 million acres in northern Maine, including Moosehead Lake and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. St. Pierre said people would donate or sell property to the park, and that nobody would be forced to sell.

There are plenty of opponents, however, including people who make their living from the northern forests, the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine and Gov. John Baldacci, who is creating his own program for the state, called the Maine Woods Legacy.

Critics fear creation of a park will result in bans or restrictions on hunting, snowmobiling, logging and other traditional activities.

Unlike Restore's proposal, the governor's concept would work to maintain areas for all-terrain vehicles and other recreation, forestry and manufacturing. It would also tie development to the use of environmentally friendly practices.

St. Pierre thinks the park might even be created while George Bush is president.

"He may need to polish his environmental record. He could do it by helping us," St. Pierre joked. "He could name it George Bush National Park," St. Pierre joked. "That would be OK with me."


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