Promises and the Katahdin National Monument
This week an email from Rep. Chellie Pingree arrived, and in part of that email, she proclaimed that she was proud of the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. This statement by an elected official flies in the face of the Maine people affected by this action, in that they did not want the national monument. Sen. Angus King also supported this proposal and must be pleased that once again there is no regard for the people’s will and bigger federal government prevails. We hope that Rep. Pingree’s action will be remembered this Nov. 8 by the voters who value access to our state’s resources unencumbered by federal regulations.
We have just returned from a lengthy vacation traveling throughout the Western states and visiting many national parks and monuments. While on this vacation, we observed several readily apparent characteristics of national parks and national monuments, and the idea for this article came to mind. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama made his declaration prior to our return. Therefore, instead of influencing the debate, I will attempt to provide information designed to highlight doubt about the promises made to the Maine people and hope that the responsible politicians will be held accountable when, not if, these promises are broken.
We have been promised that hunting, fishing and access to what is now called Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument will not be restrictive. What are the realities? We can only judge by looking at existing parks and monuments and examining their hunting, fishing and access rules.
Upon visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Glacier N.P., Crater Lake N.P., Lassen Volcanic N.P., Sequoia/Kings Canyon N.P., Dinosaur National Monument, Great Basin N.P., and Rocky Mountain N.P., there was no mistaking a common characteristic. There is no hunting allowed in any of these places. Maine people have been told that there would be little if any change to hunting access and regulation. However, already a huge section of the monument has been designated “no hunting.” What prevents the balance of the monument from being restricted to hunting is only the whim of a federal bureaucrat, not an elected official.
Hunting regulation also changes. One such instance is that national park and monument rules state that if a hunter wounds an animal outside of the no hunting boundary and the animal escapes into the no hunting area, the hunter may pursue the animal. If the hunter finds the animal and it is still alive, they may not shoot the animal. They must find a ranger to do the job. This is ridiculous and unmanageable.
People who enjoy fishing are also affected. Fishing regulations are determined by the national park or monument, not the state of Maine. As we visited the above mentioned, we observed that there are as many different regulations as there are fish. Regulations are different from park to park and are not necessarily those of the state where the park or monument is found.
Some examples are a special stamp for a specific species of fish, catch-and-release only, differing bag limits, no fishing zones, and boat and motor restrictions. Some may argue that this is no different than what already exists within Maine. However, the regulations may be totally different than the Maine regulations. One only needs to look at the existing lake or river regulations in Maine to realize how onerous this can be.
Access may be the most objectionable aspect of the new national monument. All of the parks and monuments that we visited had an entrance fee, and some were quite expensive. The fees were listed as seven-day, but the reality of visitors is that many are simply a one- or two-day type of visitor. The fees we encountered ranged from $10 to $30 per location, and they were not interchangeable from park to park. Someone is not going to pay the fee at Acadia for seven days and then be able to use it for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Katahdin Woods has not instituted a fee at this point, but do not doubt that as the infrastructure of the monument is put in place, there will be a fee. A search of fees for national monuments, while not exhaustive, found only one monument with free access, and that is the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
Whether the people of Maine like it or not, we now have a new national monument. As those who have been able to access and use this land in the past experience the changes and restrictions, I would hope they would remember the politicians who gave them what they did not want.