Obama designates 87K acres in Maine as newest U.S. national monument

A tree canopy at the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in north-central Maine. Wednesday, President Barack Obama designated 87,000 acres in the state as part of the new monument. File Photo by Zack Frank/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) — President Barack Obama designated the United States’ newest national monument on Wednesday — 87,000 acres of land in northernmost New England.

The president designated the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in north-central Maine, extending to the area federal environmental protections and full monument status.

“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,” the White House said Wednesday.

The monument’s official dedication came one day before the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service — a celebration Obama has touted all year long.

“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,” the White House statement added.

Since taking office in 2009, Obama has designated more national monuments, 25, than any other commander in-chief — including California’s San Gabriel Mountains (2014), Hawaii’s Honouliuli (2015), New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte (2013) and Nevada’s Basin and Range (2015).

Katahdin is Obama’s sixth monument designation so far this year.

Though typically Democratic, some residents and leaders in Maine oppose the new designation — worried that it may keep people from fully enjoying the wilderness area, due to the federal protections.

“It’s sad that rich, out-of-state liberals can team up with President Obama to force a national monument on rural Mainers who do not want it,” Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement.


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