Controversy in Washington as President Obama designates a National Monument in Maine's North Woods
The National Park Service is celebrating 100 years today, but not everyone is in a party mood. To mark the occasion, President Obama designated a national monument in Maine’s North Woods and Waters. While some see the designation as an honor, others are saying the president’s actions weren’t in the best interest of all Mainers.
"I think this is the people of Maine sharing the North Woods with the rest of the world," said NPS Public Affairs Officer Jeffrey Olson.
President Obama officially bringing Katahdin into the Federal family on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Olson says this designation is perfect for Katahdin, a unique and majestic landscape.
"We’re just really grateful that we have that piece of the Maine North Wood’s, that American magic, is part of the National Park system," said Olson.
He says it’s not just about federal protection for the region and that it can work as a huge boost for the local economy.
"There were about 295,000 jobs directly supported by visitor spending within communities that are near National Parks," said Olson. "Most of those jobs, more than 250,000 of those jobs, were local jobs."
Some lawmakers here on Capitol Hill aren’t thrilled about the President going over Congressional heads to create this National Monument. Several Maine lawmakers were outspoken against the move, concerned with the cost to taxpayers and the Feds effectively managing the land.
“I believe he should not have used his executive authority given the objection lodged by the Maine Legislature, the lack of consensus among Mainers who live in the area, and the absence of Congressional approval,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).
Also chiming in was House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), who said “If the President cared about local voices and improving our National Park System, he would have done this through the public process and not behind closed doors.”
Though being deemed a monument will limit commercial opportunity in the area, Olson says preserving this land is what’s important.
"We always do it with great motives for the future because we’re thinking about our children and our grandchildren and generations yet to come," said Olson.