Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 24 : Spring 2015 - Page 54

I’m a hunter and a fisherman. I like to snowmobile, hike and canoe. I understand the important role these traditional activities play in the region’s economy. That’s why we will protect them forever by making sure that snowmobiling and hunting are preserved in the national recreation area. Right now, we have an opportunity for action. Next year, the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and there’s a renewed, bipartisan commitment in Congress to honor the occasion. There’s a window of opportunity now! Unlike other some proposals to create new public lands, the new national park and national recreation area have the important elements necessary to bridge differences. It becomes conservation with access to sportsmen, appealing to hunters, fishermen and snowmobilers alike. It’s limited in size and scope, with a commitment to honoring Maine’s forest legacies. There are plans being developed to ensure that local voices are part of any planning for the park and recreation area. It includes a $40 million endowment, evidence of a new type of public-private partnership. Around the Katahdin region, there’s new energy and a new urgency for action around a national park and recreation area. In Congress, there’s opportunity to move beyond the gridlock to create something special in the state of Maine. Already, people are starting to discover the beauty and the potential of a new national park and recreation area. We’re calling the land the Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area (www.katahdinwoods.org). 52 SPRING 2015 Photo courtesy of Elliotsville Plantation Inc.