For the last several months there has been a quiet battle raging over the fate of thousands of acres of land in Maine’s north woods. Roxanne Quimby, one of the co-founders of Burt’s Bees and a prominent philanthropist, had for years been buying lands surrounding Baxter State Park; home to Maine’s highest peak Mount Katahdin. Mrs. Quimby was rumored to have been buying the lands with the goal of creating a conservation zone. Obviously questions have been raised as to whether or not the goal is to incorporate the land into the existing Baxter lands or something else. Last month it was confirmed that Mrs. Quimby has other plans which could have very devastating consequences for Maine’s north woods.
Many Mainers are of course skeptical of the creation of such a zone. What will the rules governing this conservation zone be? Will hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and other popular recreational activities be permitted? Will the land be managed by the State of Maine or will it fall into federal hands? Paul LePage, the Governor of Maine, was a strong voice of opposition to Mrs. Quimby’s rather ambiguous plans, suggesting that the lands would likely not go to the state but rather to the federal government. As the Governor and other critics have noted, some of the lands Mrs. Quimby has purchased in the Moosehead and Katahdin regions have been restricted to many recreational activities which is similar to the sort of federal restrictions on National Park land. Elliotsville Plantation LLC., Quimby’s holding company for the lands, had for months refused to issue statement on the future liberalization of the rules for use of the land. [Read more…]