Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Helps Local Economy

Last August, 87,000 acres of woodland east of and adjacent to Northern Maine’s famous wilderness ‘Baxter State Park’ were gifted to the people of the United States by Bert’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby. The next day, President Obama acted to protect the site by designating it as one of our nation’s newest National Monuments (https://www.nps.gov/kaww/index.htm).
In this piece longtime Katahdin Valley entrepreneur Mathew Polstein writes that KWWNM is already having a remarkably positive impact on the area’s distressed economy. Mathew’s robust on-the-ground first-person report contradicts the naysayers. Some of the National Monument’s most vocal critics, like Maine’s wayward Governor LePage, have never actually been to the area.
Ms. Quimby has also established a trust to fund the National Monument’s development. One of our co-workers is considering taking a summer job at KWWNM building new trails at $16/hour. Jim

“At the New England Outdoor Center and Twin Pine Camps, on Millinocket Lake, we started seeing evidence of the monument’s influence in May 2016. People, most of whom were already visiting Acadia National Park, came and stayed with us, citing talk of a new national monument in the Katahdin region as the catalyst for their visit. All left promising to return, as area attractions and a landscape with stunning natural beauty both on the soon-to-be Katahdin Woods and Waters Monument and Baxter State Park had captured their interest…

“The monument breathed new life into our fall and drove a 33 percent year-over-year increase in revenue at the River Drivers restaurant as day and overnight visitation to the region grew. It proved to be a good warmup for this past winter when our overall business, driven by snowmobiling, grew 61 percent, easily passing our best winter ever…

“Looking forward, we continue to see substantially higher demand for lodging in our facilities. In fact, our May/June reservations (determined by looking at the comparative dollar value of our bookings for May and June as of April 25) are 65 percent higher than our three-year average, and 84 percent higher than demand was in May and June of 2016.

“This growth is astonishing and unprecedented in the 21 years we have run Twin Pine Camps and represents over 1,000 additional bed nights and $70,000 in new lodging revenue in May and June alone…

“Demand that exceeds our capacity will support our next round of investment. We are working toward adding 15 percent annually to our lodging capacity for the next few years, a move that will be further supported by investment in expanded meeting and function space.

“These investments and the corresponding opportunity and security they offer our employees, as well as financing and investment partners, are directly linked to the increased publicity resulting from the monument designation…

“The very best news, however, is that we are not alone. There is a new sense of excitement and optimism in the region as numerous groups, including the Katahdin Tourism Partnership, Our Katahdin, Katahdin Revitalization, Katahdin Area Trails and the Butler Conservation Fund, bring to the region energy, resources and a growing willingness to work collaboratively for a brighter economic future.

“It is clear that the designation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument flipped a switch in the collective consciousness of the region as to what was possible….”

http://bangordailynews.com/2017/04/29/opinion/my-katahdin-area-business-is-booming-thanks-to-maines-new-national-monument/?utm_source=BDN+News+Updates&utm_campaign=8cba1a6d67-RSS_AFTERNOONUPDATE_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_715eed3192-8cba1a6d67-82708977&goal=0_715eed3192-8cba1a6d67-82708977