There are no plans at this point for the National Park Service to look into the merits of a "North Woods National Park" in Maine, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
During a congressional review of the Interior Department's FY 2013 budget proposal, Secretary Salazar told U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that the Park Service is not planning to conduct a "reconnissance study" of the proposed park.
"There is no effort under way to do any of that," the secretary said last week.
Talk of creating a national park in Maine's North Woods has been kicking around for roughly 20 years. The drivers behind Restore: The North Woods long have envisioned a 3.2-million-acre park, one that would be 1 million acres larger than Yellowstone National Park and which would help wildlife species threatened with extinction for lack of habitat and protect the "wild forests of New England."
The appeal of a "North Woods" national park reached all the way to Washington, D.C., where Interior Secretary Salazar was so intrigued by the possibility that he and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis traveled to Maine last August to meet the locals and hear their thoughts on the proposal. The two didn't promote the idea, but rather tried to answer questions from those on both sides of the issue.
Roxanne Quimby, who built a fortune making candles and personal care products under the Burt's Bees label, so believes the landscape is worthy of "national park" status that she has offered to transfer roughly 70,000 acres of her land that butts up to Baxter State Park to the National Park Service.
The gesture, while seen as grand by many, is looked down upon by others who believe Maine's woods exist to be logged or that having the federal government in the backyard in the form of a national park would create too many "restrictions and rules."
“Since your visit to Maine in August, the proponents have been trying hard to gain support for the completion of a feasibility or reconnaissance study, but I will tell you that the harder they have pushed, the stronger the resistance has become,” Sen. Collins told Secretary Salazar during the hearing.