National Park Service chief outlines goals of feasibility study

Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue
Nick Sambides | BDN
Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue
Posted Nov. 01, 2011, at 8:46 p.m.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Lawrence Jackson | AP
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

MILLINOCKET, Maine – Local sentiment for and against a new national park would be considered, but Congress, the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service would determine the uses of the 70,000 acres conservationist Roxanne Quimby proposes giving to the park service in 2016, according to a letter from the park service’s top official.

Responding to a letter by Town Manager Eugene Conlogue containing more than 20 questions for U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis details what residents could expect from a park service feasibility study of Quimby’s plan, which she and the Medway-based National Park Citizens Committee advocate.

The study would examine “whether the area … possesses nationally significant natural or cultural resources and represents one of the most important examples of a particular resource type in the country,” Jarvis wrote in his Oct. 13 letter. The study also would look at whether the land “is a suitable or feasible addition to the [national park] system.”

Each study takes several months or years to complete, Jarvis said, and considers several factors within any potential park it examines, including:

• The rarity and integrity of the resources; the threats to those resources; and whether similar resources already are protected in the National Park System or in other public or private ownership.

• The public use potential of the resource or lands in question and the interpretive or educational potential of that resource.

• Costs associated with acquisition, development and operation of a potential park.

• The socioeconomic impacts of any designation placed upon the resource by the park service and the level of local and general support for a potential park.

• Whether the area is of appropriate configuration to ensure long-term resource protection and visitor use.

The studies also consider whether “direct NPS management or alternative protection by other public agencies or the private sector is appropriate for the area” and identify what alternatives would “be most effective and efficient in protecting significant resources and providing for public enjoyment.”

Boundaries for the studied area could be refined by federal agencies depending on several factors and “on-site consultation with area residents, land owners, and other stakeholders would be part of any study,” Jarvis wrote. “Local support for a proposed new national park would also be considered during any study, and plays a major part” in a study’s findings and the recommendation issued to Congress by the Department of the Interior.

Resolutions, such as offered by groups for and against a park, also would play a significant part of the findings, Jarvis said.

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