The meeting at the Northern Maine Timber Cruisers Clubhouse on Lake Road will begin at 6:30 p.m. It is probably the first time Quimby has ever spoken at a public event in The Magic City, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said. The public is invited.
“She wanted to come up and talk about these [land] acquisitions between her and the state, and how we negotiated the deal with the state,” Conlogue said Tuesday.
Quimby and Mark Leathers, a resource consultant for James W. Sewall Co. who helps Quimby’s business manage her lands, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Conlogue said that Quimby will provide an update on her plans for three parcels north of Millinocket that she has either sold to the state or accepted conservation easements on. The lands are the southern portion of Sandy Stream, Mud Pond and Three Rivers.
Quimby, Conlogue said, hasn’t specified that her efforts to give more than 70,000 wilderness acres next to Baxter State Park to the federal government to create a Maine Woods National Park would be on the agenda, but he would not be surprised if the subject was raised.
“It’s the single biggest issue we know her by, but it’s not the only issue that she’s concerned about,” Conlogue said.
Quimby announced plans last week for a visitor center dedicated to writer Henry David Thoreau at the 13.8-acre Lunksoos Camps that would anchor the proposed park within her lands.
The park would be nearly twice the size of Maine’s Acadia National Park. In a giveback to sportsmen, her vision is to set aside an additional 30,000 acres of woodlands north of Dover-Foxcroft to be managed like a state park, with hunting and snowmobiling allowed.
Maine’s congressional delegation has expressed concerns about her plan for a national park and remains skeptical. Conlogue, vice president of the Maine Woods Coalition, is a leading opponent of the plan.
He fears that a national park would smother a state forest products industry already devastated by mill closings, including one in East Millinocket earlier this month that left 450 people unemployed, and regional recreational efforts, such as snowmobiling, that are especially crucial to a largely undiversified Katahdin region economy.
National parks “impose very stringent regulations on the regions around them and, for one thing, they don’t stick to the business within their own boundaries,” Conlogue said. “We have seen enough of them over time that they don’t hold enough water for me.”
Quimby’s practice of buying huge tracts of land and then locking them off from motorized uses, including snowmobiles and ATVs, and traditional access, such as by hunters, has made her a disliked figure to many Maine sportsmen.
One shouldn’t read anything into the timing of Quimby’s visit, Conlogue said, noting that its occurring after the closure of the mill was coincidental and that planning for her meeting was under way months before it.
It is rather, he said, the culmination of 5½ years of effort by a working group Quimby formed that’s made up of forest industry proponents, sportsmen, recreation advocates and other landowners to achieve compromises that have helped all sides, including land swaps to maintain recreational access, especially with snowmobile trails.
Several committee members, including former Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine President George Smith, Conlogue and Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, also will attend the meeting, Conlogue said.
“Those of us who have gotten to know her have developed a good working relationship with her. We don’t win all the arguments, but she does listen,” Conlogue said of Quimby.
“We always must remember one thing: As much as we may not like her ideas on her land, it is her land, not ours, and she has certain rights to use her land as she deems fit,” he added. “We cannot lose sight of that reality.”