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August 23, 2017

With decision looming, NRCM report spotlights Katahdin Woods and Waters economic benefits

Courtesy / National Resources Council of Maine
Courtesy / National Resources Council of Maine
A new report released today on the eve of the first anniversary of the creation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument — as well as an expected decision by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about its fate — shows the national monument already is spurring economic benefits to a region hit hard by paper mill closures.

A day before Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is scheduled to announce his recommendations for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and other monuments under review, Natural Resources Council of Maine released a report highlighting its economic benefits to the region since its creation a year ago.

The report, "Katahdin Woods & Waters — Our Monument, Our Community, Voices from the Region," includes statements from local business owners in Millinocket, East Millinocket, Medway, Patten and Mt. Chase. Many of them grew up in the Katahdin region, some with families extending back multiple generations as well as some who've become monument supporters after previously being opposed to it.

Highlights of the report:

  • The monument is spurring more visitors to the area, including many from out-of-state who came to the region for the first time specifically to visit Katahdin Woods and Waters. Barry Davis, president of Two Rivers Canoe and Tackle in Medway, told NRCM: "2016 was our best year since 2009." Terry Hill, co-owner of Shin Pond Village in Mt. Chase, added: "We've seen lots of license plates from Missouri, Idaho, different states that we wouldn't normally see. And we're getting calls daily about the monument."
  • The monument is spurring more investment and business in local restaurants, lodging and shops. Jon Ellis, co-owner of Ellis Family Market in Patten and East Millinocket, told NRCM stores in the area are expanding, saying, "this hasn't happened in ages. And it's happening because there's increased foot traffic and more people coming to the area. People are asking me about the monument all the time."
  • More real-estate sales. Dan Corcoran explains that his Millinocket-based real estate business has doubled its staff in the past year, in large measure because visitors came to the area to see the national monument, fell in love with the region and decided to purchase property.
  • More employment. NRCM reported that stores like Richardson's Hardware in Patten have seen an uptick in business, quoting owner Nate Richardson, who says, "We are expanding to include kayaks, paddle boards, tents, camping and RV supplies, and other outdoor sporting equipment. We have hired two additional employees and hope to go further as the demand increases."
Courtesy / Natural Resources Council of Maine
Courtesy / Natural Resources Council of Maine
A pie-chart illustration created by the Natural Resources Council of Maine shows the overwhelming support expressed during the public comment period during the Department of Interior's review of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is expected to issue his recommendations for Katahdin Woods and more than 20 other national monuments by Thursday.

Gail Fanjoy of the Katahdin Region Chamber of Commerce told NRCM the national monument has boosted the region, which had been reeling from mill closings in Millinocket and East Millinocket. "The national monument has brought hope to our region at a time when it is desperately needed," she said.

"As we mark the one-year anniversary of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, we should listen to these voices from the Katahdin region," Pete Didisheim, advocacy director for NRCM, said in a news release. "They tell us that the monument is off to a great start. It is contributing to the local economy, attracting new people to the region, and providing hope for a better future."

Local sentiment in support of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument expressed in NRCM's report mirrors public comments submitted to the Department of Interior as part of its review of national monuments. An NRCM analysis reported on by Mainebiz earlier this summer showed that out of 192,052 comments submitted to the department as of July 4 that specifically mentioned Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, 191,976 (99.96%) supported the monument. Only 67 (.03%) opposed it.

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NRCM report on Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

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