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August 10, 2022

King Introduces Bill to Improve Access to Katahdin Woods and Waters

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act, cosponsored by Senator Collins, would authorize the purchase of additional parcels to better connect the Monument to Millinocket and major roadways

BRUNSWICK, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), Chairman of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee, has introduced bipartisan legislation to improve visitors’ access to the Katahdin Woods and Waters (KWW) National Monument and support more tourist activity in the region. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act, cosponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), would authorize the expansion of KWW by giving the National Park Service (NPS) permission to acquire land that better connect the Monument to the Millinocket region and major roadways.

The bill also includes provisions to allow the NPS to acquire buildings for Monument administration and visitor services outside of park boundaries. All expansions will occur with the cooperation of willing landowners, will protect traditional hunting, fishing and snowmobile usage on the acquired property, and are expressly forbidden from being done through eminent domain.

“Since its establishment, Katahdin Woods and Waters has helped thousands of people from around the world enjoy Maine’s unmatched beauty and brought important economic opportunity to our state,” said Senator King. “The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act would build on the Monument’s successes and let more people experience this Maine treasure. The expansions the bill authorizes would allow for a smoother entry into the park, bring visitors closer to the heart of the Millinocket community, and further expand the Katahdin region’s tourism economy. It’s an important step to support the future of the Monument and Maine’s outdoor recreation heritage. I’m grateful for the local leaders who have helped develop this bill, and hope it can continue to receive bipartisan support across Congress.”

“With vast acres of forests, scenic trails, pristine rivers, and breathtaking views of Mount Katahdin, KWW is a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts,” said Senator Collins. “By facilitating the creation of a second entrance, this commonsense bill would allow more visitors to explore the monument more easily from the south, while preserving existing access to hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling. Additionally, by enhancing the accessibility of KWW, this bill would provide a boost to Millinocket, East Millinocket, and other local communities, helping to create jobs.  I have supported efforts to make KWW a success, and this legislation would help the Katahdin region thrive and chart a better economic future.”

The expansion is widely supported by Katahdin region leaders. National Parks Subcommittee Chairman King hopes to hold a hearing on the legislation later this year and welcomes feedback from the community about how the measure can be improved as it moves through the legislative process.

“The Katahdin Chamber of Commerce supports the bipartisan KWW Access Bill as it creates additional access to the Monument in order that all communities in the Katahdin region can benefit from enhanced economic opportunities,” Tom Shafer, President of the Katahdin Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

“As a business owner in the Katahdin region I have seen increased foot traffic over the last five plus years. Although many factors have contributed, the designation of the National Monument and the increasing support of the Monument from the local communities certainly has to be high on the list,” said Jamie Brundrett, Owner of the Katahdin General Store. “With the ability to create greater access to the monument through willing landowners, I believe my business will continue to see additional incremental growth.” 

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act would give the Department of the Interior authority to acquire multiple parcels to the south of the Monument. View a map of the parcels HERE. The bill also gives the Secretary of the Interior authority to acquire or lease essential facilities for the administration and visitor services outside of park boundaries.

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 support, continued Maine’s longstanding outdoor traditions, and yielded economic benefits to the region, he pushed against a 2017 Department of the Interior review that threatened to roll back the designation. Senator King also recently 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.

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