Thousands Of Acres Of Maine Woods Are Now Federally Protected

President Barack Obama designated tens of thousands of acres of Maine forest as a national monument on Wednesday, the working day before the 100 th anniversary of the National Park Service.

The area, known as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, spans 87,500 acres of the state’s stunning northern woods. The region is named for Mount Katahdin, which is Maine’s highest mountain and is located within the adjacent Baxter State Park.

Katahdin Woods and Waters is open to the public 24 hours a day, year-round, according to the Portland Press Herald. It’s currently free, but the paper notes that the National Park Service could potentially charge entrance fees in the future.

Activities like camping, hiking, kayaking and skiing are permitted throughout the region, but hunting and snowmobiling are permitted merely in select parts.

Learn more about visiting the region here .

A video from the White House showcases the region’s beauty and notes that the president has helped preserve millions of acres of land.

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Many conservationists are characterizing the news as a win for nature, but not everyone is thrilled with the decision.

The land previously belonged to Roxanne Quimby, one of the co-founders of the personal care company Burt’s Bees. Quimby and their own families have been trying to get the property converted into a national park for years, but have faced opponent from some local residents for a variety of reasons. Some want the land available to be used in the woodland products industry an enterprise that once thrived of the states of the region but has been steadily spiraling downward for years . Other locals don’t want to see activities like hunting and snowmobiling curbed. And some people simply don’t guess the federal government is competent.

That’s one reason the region objective up as a national monument rather than a national park, the Portland Press Herald reports .

National monuments are similar to national parks — both are federally protected and managed. But while a national park can only be created through an act of Congress, a president can designate a national monument unilaterally through the power of the Antiquities Act of 1906. And according to the Press Herald, Quimby and their own families couldn’t get Maine’s congressional delegation to introduce legislation to attain the region a park.

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That said, plenty of Mainers do support the decision. The Natural Resources Council of Maine , the state’s resulting environmental group, is “thrilled” with government decisions, executive director Lisa Pohlmann told Maine Public Broadcasting .

“We can think of no better style to celebrate the 100 th anniversary of the National Park Service than with the addition of the wonderful Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, ” she said.

CLARIFICATION: The National Park Service will manage the new national monument in Maine. An earlier version failed to point out that national monuments are managed by a variety of federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management .

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