Gov. Paul LePage has asked President Donald Trump to reverse an executive order by the Obama administration that created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and return the land to private ownership.
by Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Maine
Maine Gov. Paul LePage has asked President Donald Trump to reverse an executive order by the Obama administration that created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and return the land to private ownership.
In a two-page letter dated Feb. 14, the Republican governor asks Trump to enact the reversal “before economic damage occurs and traditional recreational pursuits are diminished.” The Bangor Daily News obtained a copy of the letter Wednesday, and it was verified by LePage spokesman Peter Steele. Steele declined to comment further.
Calling President Barack Obama’s executive order creating the monument “a grave injustice … to the people and our forest economy,” LePage attached a letter from April 22, 2016, detailing his objections to the order.
It is unclear whether a president can undo an executive order creating a monument. Several attorneys general dating back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s have issued opinions that presidents lack the authority to abolish national monuments, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
If a return to private ownership is not feasible, LePage said, “I believe the land should be managed by the state of Maine to ensure it can benefit all Maine people and accommodate the region’s economic and regional needs.”
Lucas St. Clair, a leading proponent of the monument, said that the $40 million in endowments and fundraisers his family promised in support of the monument would vanish if the park’s management was transferred from the National Park Service. His mother, Burt’s Bee entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby, has worked to establish a national park in the North Woods since at least 2011.
“They would be losing a $40 million endowment,” St. Clair said. “I would do what I could to keep [reversal of the monument designation] from happening. I would work with the thousands of people who support this. But if it did [get rescinded], the investment would go away and the contractual law [that established the monument] with the federal government would be in jeopardy.
“It is a terrible, terrible idea,” St. Clair added.
Monument opponents were noncommittal or refused to comment on LePage’s letter.