Meet Our Newest National Monument, Just In Time For NPS100

Just over 100 years after President Wilson signed into existence Sieur de Monts National Monument — which became Maine’s Acadia National Park — President Obama brought the National Park Service full circle. Yesterday, Obama created a new park — comprising 87,500 acres of pristine forest called the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. This is a pretty big deal and may be the last of its kind. According to the president of the National Parks Conservation Association, Theresa Pierno, “It may be one of the last, large national parks that we see in our lifetime.”

Katahdin Woods is the nation’s 413th national park site — encompassing lands full of varied wildlife like moose, deer, lynx, and bear. The rivers teem with brook trout. The trees are filled with rare birds like the boreal chickadee and the American three-toed woodpecker. The park will also include a 30-mile stretch of the iconic International Appalachian Trail. Just take a look:

Philanthropist Roxanne Quimby (of Burt’s Bees fame) and her son, Lucas St. Clair, spearheaded the creation of the park by donating the land, building roads around the park for recreation, donating more land for forest usage, and pledging $40 million for the maintenance and administration of the park. All told, they’ve gifted America with $100 million for the creation and running of this park.

Still, the process hasn’t been without controversy, as locals have been losing forest-related jobs over the last decade and see the park as another way to stop them from using their natural resources to make money. This counter-argument is tourism. National parks inject a lot of cash into local economies, often bringing in 10 times their operation’s costs in profits. Better still, National Parks are proven job creators. Still, it’s natural for people to be dubious and only time will tell the economic impact the park will have for the locals.

To celebrate our National Park Service turning 100 this summer, take a trip up to Maine and visit our newest national monument. It’ll be an adventure into the wilds of a beautiful corner of our country and a great help to a local economy that could really use your tourist dollars.

(Via the Washington Post)