It's a wonderful idea: Burt's Bees founder wants to donate national park. Roxanne Quimby, cofounder of Burt's Bees and a longtime Maine resident, has been purchasing land in Maine' inland forests for years. Now she wants to give 70,000 wild acres adjacent to Baxter State Park to the National Park Service for a national park, and another 30,000 acres for a national preserve (which would be more friendly to hunters, snowmobilers, and other outdoor enthusiasts).
If she can win support - and an important note on that below the fold - the gift would be timed with the National Park Service's 100th anniversary in 2016.
Restore.org has been advocating a Maine North Woods National Park for some time, as have I. (Note that Restore's vision of 3.2 million acres, larger than Yellowstone, is substantially larger than the 100,000 acres Quimby proposes donating.) The National Park Service favors the idea:
The Park Service is intrigued by Quimby's idea, especially since it believes the Northeast is underserved. The last time a large national park was created was in Alaska in the 1980s during the Carter administration.A National Parks Conservation Association poll found strong support for a Maine Woods National Park. And national parks are economic engines, with gateway communities (e.g., West Yellowstone) far outperforming the United States as a whole in job growth, personal income growth, and population growth.
"The National Park Service would like to see additional opportunities for preserving these beautiful places and creating recreational opportunities in the Northeast," said spokesman David Barna. "The proposal would be exciting for the National Park Service to evaluate."
The heart of the Maine woods, 10 million acres, is the largest undeveloped land east of the Rockies. Some logging has occurred; Quimby's 100,000 acres are covered with saplings, recovering from logging operations that ended five years ago. Nevertheless, moose, endangered Canada lynx, coyotes, and snowshoe hares make their homes in the forest.
What's needed to accept this gift proposal? National parks don't get created without the consent of the senators from the affected state. Both Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are moderate Republicans with some interest in environmental issues. Both can win the support of Maine voters of all stripes - moderates and independents included - by supporting a Maine Woods National Park.