CONTRIBUTORS

Quimby could better use her money investing in Katahdin region economic development

Posted July 21, 2011, at 6:34 p.m.

The noose is getting tighter. I attended the recent meeting in Millinocket where I listened to Roxanne Quimby extol the virtues of a Maine Woods or North Woods National Park. Mayors from Estes Park and Grand Lake, Colo., were part of a three-hour show like no other I have attended.

The wolf is at the door, speaking economic growth to an audience that wants desperately to have some hope. It’s time for people of good sense to not get lulled into thinking that a federal park is going to provide jobs. It’s time for us to oppose federal zoning in the Maine woods.

Quimby said by the year 2016, the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service, it is her goal to have another national park in Maine, a park that would be nearly twice the size of Acadia National Park. She said she has put aside $20 million and plans to raise another $20 million as an endowment for park maintenance, which she estimates at a 5 percent rate of return could provide $2 million annually to fund park maintenance. Even bad schemes have great talking points.

If Quimby really wants to build Maine’s economy and her passion is truly helping small businesses then I would offer that she take her $20 million or $40 million and:

• Hire Maine contractors to build four-season destination resorts on her land to support the tourism she promotes and the jobs supported by it.

• Employ Maine contractors and rebuild the 70 miles of road infrastructure so that the Maine tradition of public access, including hunting, snowmobiling and ATVs on private lands, is alive and well.

• Purchase a fleet of ATVs and snowmobiles to rent to the 300,000 tourists she predicts will visit the area and use the motorized trails which she has pledged to help develop.

• Manage all of her land for timber harvesting to provide highest and best use raw materials to the forest products industry and save mill jobs.

• Establish the Quimby School for Entrepreneurship in Millinocket and provide the small-business training, marketing and branding for the region that she mentions at every opportunity.

• Work with the local municipalities and business owners to establish a brand and marketing campaign to bring people to the region.

When questioned, Quimby said that “a national park brand” is necessary for the economic success of gateway communities. I would propose that if she built the Burt’s Bees business empire on less than $400 and no electricity, then surely she can use her business acumen to work with local communities to build a brand to allow the region to prosper without creating a national park.

Is the presidential pen her “default position?” When asked why she was seeking national park designation, which takes an act of Congress, versus having it declared a national monument, which only takes an act of the president, she replied, “that is my default position.” 2016 is right around the corner.

Quimby’s plan will cause taxes to rise and freedoms to shrink. The Legislature got it right last month when it passed a resolve to oppose Quimby’s initiative. Local communities would be wise to do the same.

A national park would take away the tax base. A national park will make us all play “Mother, May I?” with faceless bureaucrats. It’s time to wake up and not expect others to do our fighting for us. It’s up to each of us to oppose federal ownership and federal zoning of the Maine woods, which is what Roxanne Quimby and RESTORE have in mind when they talk about a national park.

Sign up now to fight the battle for the North Woods. Enlist in the battle and stand up to elitists who think they know best for the rest of us. Only if we band together can we stop this takeover of sweet talk and persuasion by Roxanne and her “experts.” A grass-roots standing army had better assemble, stay connected and informed, and be ready to fight the battles ahead. A good beginning is to sign up at www.DontFenceMEin.us

Let’s make sure that it’s the wolf, not Maine, that gets fenced in. Are you ready?

Cheryl H. Russell served as the executive director of the Maine Professional Logging Contractors and The American Loggers Council. She was the executive director of the Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business and vice president for Advancement at Husson University. She is now president of the Lincoln Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at cheryl.russell@myfairpoint.net.

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