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19:54 Wednesday, 11 January, 2006
Dear National Park Conservation Association,
I just finished reading your article about the proposed Maine Woods National Park & Preserve, and I'm exceptionally concerned about it. I feel that if action is not taken very quickly, the real estate season will be upon us again this spring and summer, and irreparable changes may be made to the land area while Congress mulls over whether anything should be done to prevent such changes. I think it would be in the best interest of everyone concerned if some sort of temporary easement could be put in place preserving the land as it currently is -- including all of its current uses -- no matter who owns it, just to give time to the decision-making process. If the timber companies need to make money by selling it, let them, but make it known that the developers buying can do nothing to it for the next five years, and that if a park is created the buyers will be compensated the amount that they paid plus inflation.
The article also noted some of the problems in balancing the different users of the land and their desires and fears of a National Park designation. This is an important debate, but is a moot point if the whole forest is cut down and developed. When it comes down to it, almost every group involved wants the forest, they just don't want the government telling them how they can use it. The focus right now needs to be on that unified desire -- to keep the forest -- and not on what will happen once it's preserved. I, personally, don't like ATV's and snow-mobiles, but I would rather have the forest intact (though criss-crossed with motorized trails) than have it gone completely. So, at this point, I support whatever type of conservation can be achieved. If all of the involved groups can agree on that, we can get somewhere with it. We all need to get it protected from development, and worry later about how it will be used. Having the above-mentioned easement which maintains current use may be a template for the future uses of the park and may help calm those users who feel their desires are threatened.
In addition to this easement which can allow a little time for Congress to think, I believe a fund-drive should be organized for the park. Nothing was mentioned at the end of the article about what I can personally do to help, but I'd like to in whatever ways I can. I figured your standard response would be to donate to NPCA, possibly ear-marked for this project, but I think something a little more noticeable would work better. A powerful symbol of what we think the government should do would be to present to Congress with a petition, saying these are Americans (and non-Americans; there are millions of foreigners visiting US parks each year), this is where they live and what they do, and this is how much money they're willing to give Congress to help diminish the cost of buying all of the land for the park. If Congress thinks they can't afford the $1 billion it will cost to buy the land in Maine, maybe we can get people to donate millions and cut down the amount Congress will have to spend. This will make the project more feasible for them, and will also demonstrate to them how important it is to Americans that the land get protected.