MILLINOCKET LAKE – After spending an entire day in Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke continued to hear how the National Monument impacts the local economy.
He had breakfast with Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce and other local officials in the Katahdin Region to discuss the future of Maine’s new national monument.
It’s a sigh of relief for many people in the Katahdin area who spent a few days giving the Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke a guided tour of the national monument.
It is one of many in the country that he’s been tasked to review.
Secretary Zinke said “We’re looking at the appropriateness of monument visa park, and how we’d do that, a park is congressional not executive.”
The new monument still needs improvements including paved roads, cleaner bathrooms and signs to help visitors get around. But it’s the encouraging words that he left people that brought a glimmer of hope in their eyes.
“When he said to me. ‘You don’t have to worry’ and when he was making plans for our monument for the future, when he refereed to it as a national park, when he said ‘It makes more sense for it to be a national park.'” said former chamber president Gail Fanjoy.
If Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument becomes a national park, it will be the second in the state, which will help the local economy.
Secretary Zinke stated “The platform of a park or monument gives a national, and in some cases international presence.” Secretary Zinke said it’s important for government to restore the trust in people.
By traveling to Maine to tour the monument, he’s done just that for some. Ultimately the decision has to be made from the state’s congressional delegations.
Secretary Zinke stated “I think the solution should be a made in Maine solution, not a made in Washington, which means we have an option to do something different here.”
Lucas St. Clair, whose family donated the land to the federal government is optimistic about the future of the monument. He said “If the Secretary of Interior is putting pressure on the congressional delegation to create a park, that’s great in my mind.”
But they’ll have to wait to hear his decision in 2 months. For now, in the meantime, they are going to do their part to get Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument where it needs to be.
Fanjoy concluded “I think you know, I am totally not worried now. In a matter of fact, I think we have a champion in Secretary Zinke, that we did not have before.”