Mud keeping Maine monument from full opening

Posted May 16, 2017, at 2 a.m.

Its north entrance is open, but Maine’s national monument won’t really start its first full season for at least another week, its superintendent said Monday.

The north entrance to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument opened on Saturday, according to a brief notice on its U.S. Department of Interior website. But the monument’s main entrance, the 16-mile Katahdin Loop Road, is closed. Monument Superintendent Tim Hudson said he didn’t know when it would be dry enough to use.

“If you traveled it now, you would be just making a mess,” Hudson said Monday. He predicted a May 29, or Memorial Day opening, at the latest. “We hope it is sooner.”

Gov. Paul LePage has asked President Donald Trump to rescind the order that last year created the monument “before economic damage occurs and traditional recreational pursuits are diminished” by the monument, LePage said.

Interior Department officials are reviewing whether the monument’s creation by then-President Barack Obama violated federal law. The review is slated to finish on Aug. 24.

Much rides upon the monument’s first season, said Gail Fanjoy, president of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, which supports the monument.

“Considering that the monument is in the crosshairs of our governor, the Secretary of the Interior and the President, it is important that we deliver as much information as to the monument’s benefits to our communities and our state as possible,” Fanjoy said Monday.

Hudson hopes to place signs on monument land within two weeks and awaits permission from the Maine Department of Transportation to put them on Interstate 95. He has about 50 signs to install, he said.

The department’s spokesman, Ted Talbot, did not respond to messages on Monday.

 

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