Maine North Woods debate Oct. 25
Camden — The Camden Public Library will host a debate-style panel discussion on the Maine North Woods on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
The presentation is part of the library’s Red White and Green October speaker series, highlighting topics of both environmental and political concern to Mainers. The Maine North Woods is a topic near and dear to the hearts of the participants; they share a love for the Maine woods, but differ in their approach to preserving the woods and in how they evaluate the value and the challenges of the North Woods.
The discussion will be moderated by Fred Newcomb of Rockland, and the panelists include Andy Young of Preserve Maine Traditions, Bob Meyers of the Maine Snowmobile Association, Jym St. Pierre of RESTORE: The North Woods, and Bill Houston, Registered Maine Guide and Outdoor Leadership Instructor at Somerset Career and Technical Center.
The library has previously hosted talks on the North Woods, and the audience response has literally been, “Well, what’s the other side of the story?” Although the issue is not on the ballot this year, the panel will seek to offer information and vision on the proposals and the threats for the North Woods.
Much of the discussion is in response to the proposal by Roxanne Quimby to donate 70,000 acres adjacent to Baxter State Park to the National Park Service for a national park in 2016. An older, but separate concept proposed by RESTORE: The North Woods is for a 3.2-million acre national park and preserve.
Preserve Maine Traditions is a citizens’ group committed to preserving Maine’s cultural heritage and land use traditions.
“We work to ensure the continued respect between landowners and the public, sharing in the stewardship of this beautiful land for all to enjoy,” said Andy Young in a news release.
The group is worried by changes that may be imposed by new ownership and by National Park regulations on the current use of the areas, which has gained a long-standing and traditional status over years and generations of use.
Members of RESTORE: The North Woods, on the other hand, are alarmed at the possibility of “misplaced residential development,” loss of public access for traditional recreation, the East-West Highway/Corridor, open-pit mining, grid-scale energy developments (e.g., wind power, high voltage power lines), shipping tar sands via Montreal-Portland pipeline, introduction of invasive species and loss of native species, and other environmental challenges, according to Jym St. Pierre. Solutions, in the view of RESTORE, include the long-standing vision for a Maine Woods National Park and Preserve; Roxanne Quimby’s offer to donate lands for a park and for multiple use; land protection by others (e.g., state, TNC, AMC, LURC, etc.); and green-certified sustainable forest management.
Houston’s experience as a long-time guide in the area, past president of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Region 1 Director for the National Wildlife Federation, and instructor of high school students looking to work in the Maine outdoors, has led him to believe that a new National Park in the North Woods would be a great economic driver for the area and expand career opportunities for his students.
The evening will begin with a short presentation by each presenter, followed up by prepared questions from the moderator, with plenty of time for questions from the audience.