Washington, DC - Today, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, President Obama designated the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument encompassing awe-inspiring mountains, forests, and waters of north-central Maine. Building on the Administration’s commitment to protecting our land, water and wildlife for future generations, this designation will permanently protect significant natural, scientific, and historic and cultural resources, wildlife habitat, and one of the most pristine watersheds in the northeast, ensuring that present and future generations are able to enjoy these lands.
The new national monument – which will be managed by the National Park Service – will protect approximately 87,500 acres, including the stunning East Branch of the Penobscot River and a portion of the Maine Woods that is rich in biodiversity and known for its outstanding opportunities to hike, canoe, hunt, fish, snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski. In addition to protecting spectacular geology, significant biodiversity and recreational opportunities, the new monument will help support climate resiliency in the region. The protected area – together with the neighboring Baxter State Park to the west – will ensure that this large landscape remains intact, bolstering the forest’s resilience against the impacts of climate change.
Following years of support from many local and state elected officials, tribal leaders, businesses and members of the public across the state, this designation will build on the robust tradition of growing the park system through private philanthropy, and will reinforce the need to continue protecting our great outdoors as we enter the second century of the National Park Service. The land has been donated to the Federal Government by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby’s foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., facilitated by the National Park Foundation as part of its Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks. In addition to the donation of the land, the approximately $100 million gift includes $20 million to supplement federal funds for initial park operational needs and infrastructure development at the new monument, and a pledge of another $20 million in future philanthropic support.
Studies have shown that every dollar we invest in our national parks generates $10 for the national economy, most of which stays in the local communities, and our national parks, forests and other public lands attract visitors from all over the world, fueling local economies and supporting an estimated $646 billion national outdoor economy. Maine’s biggest national park, Acadia, which began as a national monument designated in 1916 by President Wilson with lands donated to the Federal Government, was the nation’s ninth most visited national park last year. In 2015, Acadia National Park attracted close to 3 million visitors, who spent an estimated $247.9 million in local communities. In addition to continuing to support traditional recreational activities such as snowmobiling and hunting, the new national monument will increase public access, help generate local and regional economic activity, and complement additional economic development efforts in the region.
About the National Park Service Centennial
Tomorrow, August 25, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of America’s National Park Service. The Centennial inspires reflection on the history of America’s iconic landscapes and historical and cultural sites, as well as an opportunity to look forward toward the next century of conservation and historic preservation.
In addition to permanently protecting more than 265 million acres of America’s public lands and waters - more than any other president in history - President Obama has a strong record of protecting our nation’s natural resources and taking actions that will inspire the next generation of outdoor stewards and build an inclusive vision for the next 100 years of conservation. Under President Obama, this administration has:
- Encouraged every kid to experience our great outdoors, including through launching an “Every Kid in a Park” initiative to provide all fourth-grade students and their families free admission to all public lands and waters for a full year.
- Created heritage initiatives to recognize the cultural history of all Americans through theme studies and designations.
- Created thousands of jobs for young adults and veterans to help better protect, restore, and manage our country’s parks and public lands and waters, including through the establishment of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.
- Designated national monuments to reflect the diverse stories of Americans including the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, the Pullman National Monument, the Honouliuli National Monument and most recently, the Stonewall National Monument, the nation’s first National Monument honoring LGBT rights.
- Increased public access to the outdoors for underserved communities with little access to public lands.
- Taken steps to better recognize and commemorate culturally significant sites, including renaming the tallest mountain in North America “Denali” to reflect the heritage of Alaska Natives.
- Increased recognition of the economic benefit of the outdoors, including launching an effort to begin measuring the economic impact of outdoor recreation on the American economy.
- Celebrated 99 victories for wildlife conservation, including more recoveries under the Endangered Species Act than any previous administration, often using public lands protections to restore populations.
- Dedicated unprecedented attention and resources to restoring iconic places like the Chesapeake Bay, California Bay-Delta, Great Lakes and Everglades.
- Reformed energy development on America’s public lands and waters, including implementing new landscape-level planning across the country.
- Defended iconic landscapes and natural treasures, including taking action to block damaging uranium mining around the Grand Canyon and designating Alaska’s Bristol Bay as off limits from future oil and gas leasing.
- Signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation, which designated more than 2 million acres of Federal wilderness and protected thousands of miles of trails and more than one thousand miles of rivers.