The Swath of Maine That Just Became a National Monument

President Obama designated 87,500 acres of newly donated land as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Climbing Mount Katahdin in Maine (Beth J. Harpaz / AP)

NEWS BRIEF A chunk of Maine is the newest national monument.

President Obama on Wednesday designated 87,500 acres of forests and rivers filled with moose, bears, and rare birds as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine’s North Woods. The announcement comes a day before the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the government agency that manages national parks and monuments.

Theresa Pierno, president and chief executive of the National Parks Conservation Association, told The Washington Post this “may be one of the last, large national parks that we see in our lifetime.”

But getting here has been a challenge for the people donating the land, Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby and her son Lucas St. Clair. As the Portland Press Herald reported last week:

The family had initially hoped to create a North Woods national park but switched their short-term focus to a national monument because presidents can make such designations by executive action. National parks require an act of Congress.

St. Clair has been unable to win support from all of Maine’s congressional delegation because of outspoken opposition to the national park—and to the national monument—by some Katahdin region residents and representatives of the state’s forest products industry.

They were eventually able to donate the $60 million worth of land to create the country’s 413th national park site. They also added hunting and snowmobile protections to appease local residents, making the monument the only one in the U.S. to allow hunting. Quimby has pledged $20 million toward operations and maintenance, along with an agreement to raise an additional $20 million for the new monument.

The designation comes 100 years after President Woodrow Wilson established the Sieur de Monts National Monument, which today is Acadia, Maine’s only national park. Quimby last week donated an additional 100 acres to Acadia, valued at around $2 million.