August 24, 2016
GREENLAND – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), who is on a fact-finding mission in Greenland, released the following statement today in response to President Barack Obama’s designation of the North Woods and Waters National Monument:
“Throughout the debate and discussion surrounding the national monument, I have always been concerned first and foremost with the economic wellbeing of the Katahdin Region. The question for me has been whether a designation would be a net benefit to the region and the state and also be compatible with the existing forest products industry as well as our long-held, and deeply cherished, tradition of open land use in Maine.
“Those concerns led me to join with Senator Collins and Congressman Poliquin in writing a letter to the President last fall outlining a group of conditions we believed important to any potential designation, including support for traditional recreation uses and respect for private property rights, among others.
“I believe that the President’s proclamation, along with the binding commitments in the deeds conveying the land, address the essential elements of those conditions, and that, as a result, the benefits of the designation will far outweigh any detriment and – on balance – will be a significant benefit to Maine and the region. This conclusion is confirmed by the comments made by Secretary of the Interior Jewell shortly after the designation was announced, explicitly mentioning hiking, canoeing, fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross country skiing.
“It is critical to see this as an opportunity fully compatible with our existing forest products industry, including potential growth in woods-related businesses. This isn’t either-or, it’s both – and will provide much-needed diversity to the region’s economy.
“As the management planning process for the monument begins, I am committed to working closely with local communities so that the region and the state can maximize the economic benefits of this opportunity while at the same time continue to support a strong and innovative forest products sector.
“For some, this designation is welcome, while others will meet it with skepticism or outright opposition – but for all of us it is a change, and change is always hard. That is why I think it is important that we respect both the excitement as well as the concerns that will follow this announcement. And it is why I will continue to work with people on both sides of this issue and the Park Service to ensure that the day-to-day implementation of the monument plan lives up to its promise.
“In the meantime, I also intend to continue to work with my colleagues in the delegation as well as the leaders of the forest products industry to strengthen existing businesses as well as helping to develop new products and processes that will build on the skills of Maine people and the huge resource our forests provide.”