National parks create jobs

Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s statements in a Nov. 30 Bangor Daily News article shows he has not done his homework on the track record of national parks in creating good jobs.

Evidence from around the United States is clear: national parks create jobs in surrounding areas. A study conducted three years ago by highly reputable recreation economists showed that job creation in counties adjacent to 10 national parks, similar in character to the one proposed for the Katahdin region, was well above the national average — and significantly greater than job creation in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.

Employment opportunities include good-paying park jobs as rangers, managers, maintenance workers and trail builders; owners and managers of new and existing businesses catering to park visitors, such as guides, outfitters, lodgings, restaurants and retail operations; owners and managers of businesses servicing new residents attracted to the area by the national park brand; and entry-level jobs in all these businesses.

The experience of comparable national parks suggests that the expected number of new jobs stemming from a national park in the Katahdin region would be between 450 and 1,000. For comparison, Acadia National Park — with its prime coastal location — supported more than 3,400 jobs in 2014, with an economic benefit to the region of $271 million.

Given the dramatic job losses in northern Penobscot County from mill closures and the contraction of forest operations, even the low-end estimate of 450 new jobs in this economically distressed region should be welcome.

The evidence is clear: National parks create good jobs.

David Vail

Emeritus professor of economics

Bowdoin College

Brunswick

Drug addiction serious problem

It is no secret that the use of illicit substances has increased in the Bangor area, and in Maine as a whole. We hear about it in the news frequently, and most of us scoff as we learn about the latest bust and then carry on with our days. Few people view it as more than a quick headline for entertainment and an opportunity to make snide remarks about our local communities, but it is actually a serious problem that requires us to thoroughly examine what is influencing its growth.

Rather than staring down at this population with judgment, should we not look at how the various levels of society are made up of thoughts, actions and beliefs that contribute to and encourage this behavior? It is easy to brush off a problem like this by seeing those involved in substance use and abuse as weaker, lesser individuals dealing with a simple problem. In reality, they are not weak or inferior, and we are looking at a much more complicated issue.

To truly examine this problem and work toward finding any effective solutions, we have to start pulling apart the components that influence how our society operates, including attitudes portrayed by the entertainment business, resources available to our youth, education provided about the multidimensional effects of substance abuse and how we choose to interact with those who are struggling with dependence or abuse. To view it as anything simpler is to remain ineffective and in the dark.

Krislyn Hyatt

Orono

Leadership needed for national park

I am a resident of Mount Chase, located on the northern border of the proposed national park and recreation area. My husband and I are poised to take over the family business, Mt. Chase Lodge, a recreational sporting lodge catering to hunters, hikers, snowmobilers, skiers and vacationers who appreciate the adventure and tranquility of the North Woods. Sporting camps are held in the hearts of many, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to carry on the business that drew my family to this area more than 40 years ago. We are young and we have chosen to relocate to Mount Chase because this area is unlike any other. We cannot think of a better neighbor than a national park.

A national park will bring people to the Katahdin region, and they will spend money at our gas stations, grocery stores, gift shops and lodges. Northern Maine is an astonishing place to visit, but it has just gone unrecognized. A national park will put Mount Chase and the Katahdin region on the map. This part of Maine is a treasure and absolutely worthy of national recognition.

My family and business needs Maine’s congressional delegation to be leaders to take advantage of this historic opportunity. There is no time to waste.There is local support, and I know that Sen. Angus King understands the positive effect national parks can have on the environment and local economies. The Katahdin region can grow and thrive again with good leadership and vision. It’s time to act.

Lindsay Downing

Mount Chase