Quimby says confirmation of snowmobilers’ access to her land ‘premature’

In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, snowmobilers take in the scenery on a parcel of land sandwiched in between land owned by conservationist Roxanne Quimby in Township 5, Range 8, Maine.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, snowmobilers take in the scenery on a parcel of land sandwiched in between land owned by conservationist Roxanne Quimby in Township 5, Range 8, Maine.
Posted Sept. 02, 2011, at 5:40 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 07, 2011, at 3:53 p.m.
Roxanne Quimby
Roxanne Quimby

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby has called “premature” a report that she and her land manager had reached a settlement with regional snowmobile clubs and dropped an implied threat to close snowmobile trails running through her lands this winter if snowmobile clubs failed to support her proposed national park.

In an email dated Aug. 25 that was circulated to Brownville and Katahdin region snowmobile club leaders, Quimby said she will attend a previously scheduled and “invitation-only” meeting that club members said will happen Sept. 18 at the East Branch Sno-Rovers clubhouse in Medway in which Quimby will propose an “everlasting” solution to the problems between her and the clubs.

The email was posted on AsMaineGoes.com on Aug. 31.

Quimby said in the email that contrary to what was reported by the Bangor Daily News on Aug. 25, “no agreements have been reached between me and the local snowmobile clubs concerning access to my land this winter.”

“I am drafting a ‘win-win’ proposal for us to discuss at this meeting. My intention is to negotiate an agreement that does more than address one year; I want an agreement that will meet both our needs and be everlasting,” Quimby added. “The agreement I am composing will meet the snowmobilers’ needs and hopefully you and the club members will support a feasibility study and my desire for a National Park.”

Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, touched off a firestorm on Aug. 17 when he announced that land manager Mark Leathers told snowmobile club members at meetings in Brownville on Aug. 1 and Medway on Aug. 2 that in exchange for letters supporting a study, they would be allowed to use trails on Quimby’s land for another year.

Meyers called it “disgraceful” that Quimby would “hold a gun to the heads” of the volunteer club members who groom the snowmobile trails that run through her property — and are thus part of a snowmobiling industry that draws an estimated $300 million to $350 million into Maine annually — by threatening their trail access if they didn’t support a feasibility study.

On Aug. 24, spokeswoman Lisa Schoonmaker, communications director at James W. Sewall Co., the company that employs Leathers to advise Quimby, wrote in an email to Meyers that Quimby’s company Elliotsville Plantation Inc. “intends to keep the snowmobile trails open this winter independently of whether a snowmobile club or clubs support a feasibility study of the 70,000-acre proposed national park.”

The quote was printed as part of the BDN story on Aug. 25.

On Friday, Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue, who opposes the park and feasibility study, said he felt that Quimby once again was holding “these snowmobile clubs hostage” to her national park agenda, which includes support of a National Park Service feasibility study of her park plan.

“There is an agreement that was signed by Ms. Quimby on November 29, 2007 that assured that this area would have a snowmobile trail across the land owned by her to the degree it was needed from Millinocket to Mattagamon,” Conlogue wrote in an email to Millinocket Town Council members. “I have had a good working relationship with Ms. Quimby over the past 5 years as part of a working group she formed and I have never had reason to doubt her word.”

“I certainly hope that she will re-think her approach in this matter by honoring the agreement and respecting the opinions of others who may disagree with her regarding her desire for a national park,” he added.

Leathers declined to comment when reached Friday. Schoonmaker and Quimby did not respond to emails or telephone messages seeking comment.

Meyers said he was surprised at Quimby’s email, which he said he hadn’t seen. He said he didn’t know whether Quimby was resurrecting the threat to bar snowmobilers from her lands.

“I thought this was settled a few weeks ago,” Meyers said Friday. “If it is true, it is really disappointing. How many times do we have to go around on this? If we can’t trust them on this [access to trails], how can we trust them on anything they are saying about a national park?”

Rick LeVasseur, a member of the Jo Mary Riders Snowmobile Club on South Twin Lake who supports a feasibility study of the park plan, said he had received Quimby’s latest email. He said he doubts that Quimby ever intended to threaten anyone’s trail access.

“I don’t believe that [the threat] came from her. As a result she is willing to talk about reality. That wasn’t reality,” LeVasseur said. “Nobody is going to be coerced.”

Town Councilor John Raymond, coordinator of an effort to create a Katahdin region multiuse recreational trail network, said that Quimby promised support for area multiuse trail efforts but that hasn’t happened yet.

Raymond released a letter Quimby wrote in November 2007 in which she supported multiuse trail efforts. Raymond’s group received the letter, he said, in exchange for his group’s support of her purchase of several parcels of the land she has assembled for the national park.

Since then, Raymond said, Quimby has done nothing to support the multiuse trail effort.

“It’s been four years and there hasn’t been one meeting [regarding the multiuse trail] with her that I know of,” Raymond said. “We already supported her with the land purchase and what did we get out of it? Nothing. Now they want support on the national park study and what are we going to get out of that? Nothing?”

“I am not after Roxanne Quimby. I am just stating a fact,” Raymond added. “We are here to work with landowners, not to alienate them.”

CORRECTION:

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the email was posted on AllMaineMatters.com on Aug. 31. It was actually posted on AsMaineGoes.com.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Katahdin region businessman Rick LeVasseur supports Quimby’s proposal to put a national park next to Baxter State Park. LeVasseur supports a feasibility study of the park plan.

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