A survey of voters in Maine's 2nd Congressional District found an overwhelming majority favor creation of a national park in the North Woods.
The survey (attached below), conducted by the opinion research firm of Moore Information for proponents of the park idea, asked 500 voters whether they would support, or oppose, a national park and recreation area established on 150,000 acres of donated land near Baxter State Park.
Of all voters, 67 percent were in favor of the proposal while just 25 percent said they opposed it. Support bridged party lines, with 57 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Republicans, 77 percent of Democrats, and 68 percent of Independents/Others voicing support for the park.
"The only demographic group we found that didn't reach majority support for the proposal was when we broke out Conservations into 'somewhat' and 'very' Conservative," noted the pollster, Hans Kaiser. "Self-described 'very' Conservative voters were slightly negative about the proposal at 43 percent support/48 percent oppose, although it did not reach majority opposition even among that group.
"However, 'somewhat' Conservative voters looked similar to the District as a whole and were widely support at 64 percent support/25 percent oppose."
The current Katahdin Woods and Waters National Park and National Recreation Area proposal would offer a blend of allowed activities and, according to proponents, involve less than 1 percent of the state's timber resources. Just two hours from coastal Acadia National Park, the proposed park abuts Baxter State Park and has spectacular views of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Roxanne Quimby, who made millions from Burt's Bees personal care products, is prepared to donate 75,000 acres along the East Branch of the Penobscot River for the park, and another 75,000 acres for a national recreation area along its west bank. The national recreation area aspect of the proposal has been seen as helpful in soothing local opinion as that part of a park could be open to hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling.
The Moore Information pollster found that motivating support for the proposal seemed to be the "the positive economic impacts of creating a National Park and Recreation Area and ensuring continued public access to the 150,000 acres."
Additionally, the survey found little concern that designation of a national park in Maine's North Woods would lead to burdensome government regulations. Just "35 percent of all respondents said they were less likely to support the park when read the following statement: Mainers already have access to the land and designating it a national park would only impose restrictions that limit their current access.'"
Moore Information reportedly was selected to handle the polling because it has done polling for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and other Maine Republicans.