National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.
Protect Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
ACTION ALERT: public comment period open for Interior Department’s National Monuments Review–Submit Comments before July 10, 2017. Click here to submit: Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996
The following is a sample comment script. Please do not cut and paste! Edit the script to make it your own and add personal commentary. These scripts are designed to inform and are for inspiration and ideas! For ideas on how to write a strong submission, click here: “Suggested Outline or “Hot Topic” Review List for Comments.”
Protect Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument– Sample Script for Sunday, June 18, 2017:
Please protect Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The land was donated by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby’s foundation, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., along with a $40 million private endowment to support the monument in years to come. The monument is located in north-central Maine and is known for its remarkable wildlife habitat, including for species like Canada lynx, black bears, moose, and snowshoe hare. Outdoor recreation activities in the monument area, which will be permanently protected, are expected to bring substantial ecotourism dollars to the state and local economy and already are.
“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.” (1)
Zinke has singled out this monument for review under the heading “National Monuments Being Reviewed To Determine Whether the Designation or Expansion Was Made Without Adequate Public Outreach and Coordination With Relevant Stakeholders”. Gail Fanjoy, former president of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, said critics’ argument that the monument was designated without any public input is “preposterous.”
In spite of the uncertainty by some of the impact of the monument, the designation is starting to pay dividends in the Katahdin region. The monument provides visitors excellent snowmobiling, fishing, and hunting opportunities and there has been an increase in eco-tourism to the region. And Katahdin-area real estate agents and small-business owners are seeing an increase in interest and economic activity. (2)
- “The Katahdin region is on the radar now,” real estate agent, Alison Perrin said. “Even before (Roxanne Quimby) deeded it over to the government, the hoopla and discussion and controversy had already put the region on the radar.” Perrin believes the new monument could help bring some Katahdin-area natives back to raise families.
- Millinocket businessman and monument advocate, Matt Polstein is investing heavily in the area partnering with the Butler Foundation to build a new outdoor education center being built just outside of the monument. Polstein owns the New England Outdoor Center.
- Terry Hill, co-owner of Shin Pond Village in Mount Chase, which offers camping, lodging and a general store near the monument’s northern end was originally an opponent of the monument but has come around in the months since designation because of the positive effects on local business. Snowmobilers gas up their machines and eat at her family’s restaurant at Shin Pond Village in the Penobscot County town of Mount Chase. Hill now fully supports the monument and worked with the National Park Service, the local snowmobile club and a neighboring timberland owner to relocate a major snowmobile trail, ITS 85, onto park service land.
- Jon Ellis, owner of Ellis Family Market, which operates grocery stores in two communities, East Millinocket and Patten, on either end of the national monument land. “People would ask me about it. I think it’s going to be a real positive. I don’t see the negatives.” Ellis said that Trump’s promise to rescind the monument status to placate Governor LaPage would harm the Katahdin-area communities at a time when they just now starting to plan around the monument and are seeing the positive benefits of the new monument status.
The locals will certainly continue to see a positive impact. Studies show that every dollar invested in national parks generates $10 for the national economy, most of which stays in the local communities. “…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.”(2)
Katahdin Woods and Waters monument is only 87,500 acres, below the 100,000-acre threshold mentioned by Zinke on for his National Monuments Review effort. Not sure why this Monument is on the review list other then to placate Gov. LePage who fears losing potential timber jobs from harvesting the area. He is uninformed about the huge economic boon the monument will bring via outdoor recreation.
The value of Katahdin Woods and Waters:
The monument area is featured in the writings of Henry David Thoreau. While lower parts of land have been harvested for timber, the majority remains pristine. “There are rare plant species, seven pristine ponds, silver maple floodplains, stunning views of Mt. Katahdin, hiking trails to several summits, existing camping areas, and boat launches providing access to the East branch of the Penobscot River and its free-flowing tributaries. The variety of wildlife visitors could see includes moose, eagles, snowshoe hare, black bears, fisher cats, and Canadian lynx.” (3)
Unfortunately even if Zinke wants to open up portions of the monument to timber harvesting, the public will be on the losing end of the deal. The timber industry has declined dramatically in recent years, and profit margins—even for timber harvested on lands owned by timber companies—are small (after-tax profits in 2010 were 1.1%). As a result, the U.S. Forest Service sometimes loses money on timber sales, with the profit more than overtaken by costs—such as building roads—footed by the American taxpayer (a net loss of $15 million in 1997, for example). (4)
We have barely begun to quantify the value of ecosystem services provided by our public lands. These include (but are not limited to) carbon sequestration, erosion and flood mitigation, mitigation of air and water pollution, groundwater recharge, habitat refuges for rare species, and pollination services (5). “Consideration of non-market goods and services is essential to ensuring that conservation of our public lands is seen as an economic benefit, not just a cost.” (6)
Photo: Aerial view of the East Branch of the Penobscot. 2016-05-31 ThomasRobertKelley