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May 01, 2024

Katahdin Community and Business Owners Support Expanded Access to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Senator King introduces new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act after extensive meetings with Maine stakeholders, to help more people access the Monument

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, has reintroduced legislation to authorize additional access to the Katahdin Woods and Waters (KWW) National Monument. Following meetings with local stakeholders, the refined text of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act would authorize additional access points to KWW by giving the National Park Service (NPS) permission to acquire land from willing donors or sellers, either in fees or as an easement. Should NPS exercise its new acquisition authority, it would then use that land to better connect the Monument to the Millinocket region and major roadways. The additional access would only occur with willing landowners and the bill expressly forbids the use of eminent domain. 

This authorized acquisition is significantly reduced from the 42,000 acres that was proposed last Congress. This change was made at the request of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), which owns the majority of the potential addition. TPL is separately working to transfer the balance of the adjacent land to the Penobscot Nation, as a working forest. Additionally, since the last introduction the State of Maine has acquired the easement necessary for the ATV trail from Millinocket to Medway ensuring there will be no impact on that important east-west connection for ATVs and snowmobiles.   

View a map of the proposed parcels HERE.

The bill also includes provisions to allow the NPS to acquire buildings for Monument administration and visitor services outside of park boundaries.  The legislation also contains provisions that:

  • Protect traditional hunting, fishing, collection of fiddleheads and other outdoor recreation activity on the acquired property.
  • Protect existing access rights and right of ways for the forestry sector.
  • Establish a public safety framework ensuring safe interactions between visitors and timber operations in the region.

“Since its establishment, Katahdin Woods and Waters has helped thousands of people from around the world enjoy Maine’s unmatched beauty while bringing important economic opportunity to the Katahdin region,” said Senator King.The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act would provide additional access, on portions of the Stacyville, Huber and Roberts roads, so that more people can experience this Maine treasure, including a smoother entry into the Monument. The additional access roadways would also bring visitors closer to the heart of the Millinocket community and further expand the Katahdin region’s tourism economy. While not always easy, modernizing infrastructure in a thoughtful way will support the future of the Monument and Maine’s outdoor recreational heritage. I’m grateful for the local leaders who have helped develop this bill.”

The expansion is widely supported by Katahdin region leaders including the Penobscot Nation, the Trust for Public Lands, the recreational and tourism sectors, and local community members.

“The Penobscot Nation supports the Katahdin Woods and Waters Access Act legislation.  The act supports aspects of a portion of a land-return between TPL and the Penobscot Nation. We are looking forward to the opportunities that will be provided by caring for lands adjacent to and potentially within the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument under the General Agreement, as well as putting tribal land management front and center as visitors enter the monument at both ends,” said Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation.

“The Trust for Public Land is deeply grateful to Senator King for his leadership in introducing the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act. The bill is an essential step towards creating reliable, convenient southern access to the monument, benefiting communities in Millinocket, East Millinocket, and Medway,” said Betsy Cook, Associate Vice President and Maine State Director for Trust for Public Land. “We fully support this effort — which we hope will ensure that access, enrich our communities, boost local economies, and deepen people’s connection to the land — and we look forward to working to advance those priorities.”

“This access legislation, will help Millinocket small business benefit more from the increased visitation we are already seeing because of the National Monument.  This connection will help us to continue to expand the regions outdoor recreation economy by allowing for improved access for both residents and visitors,” said Matthew Polstein, Owner and Operator of the New England Outdoor Center.

“I am very pleased that Senator King has submitted legislation that would provide greater regional access to the Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument, this will be very beneficial to the southern portion of the region. Reading the legislation, it is evident that Senator King did listen to the people in the Katahdin Region. The legislation prohibits the use of eminent domain, there has to be a willing seller. The legislation also preserves existing uses of the land such as hunting, fishing and any other outdoor activity on the land and the Secretary will have to work with logging and trucking operations and other users of the roads in or adjacent to the National Monument,” said Mike Michaud, Chairman of the East Millinocket Board of Selectmen.

“Creating a southern entrance that brings traffic through Millinocket will be a great benefit to the small businesses in our community, while providing a better way to navigate through the monument without doubling back," said Bruce McLean, North Woods Real Estate in Millinocket.

As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks and a lifelong advocate for conservation, Senator King has spent decades championing environmental stewardship and advocacy. Senator King was an active participant in discussions to ensure that the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument would not be designated against the will of local citizens. After it became clear that the monument had widespread public backing, supported Maine’s longstanding outdoor traditions, and yielded economic benefits to the region, King pushed against a 2017 Department of the Interior review that threatened to roll back the designation. Senator King previously introduced a version of the Katahdin Woods and Waters Access Act in a previous Congress. Senator King also led the Great American Outdoors Act to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks. For his continued leadership, Senator King was awarded the inaugural National Park Foundation “Hero” Award.

Full text of the bill can be found here.


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