Outdoors

Quimby calls LePage’s push for land access ‘bluster’

Posted Feb. 13, 2016, at 4:07 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 14, 2016, at 8:15 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The owner of about 87,500 acres of Maine woodlands called Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s Friday announcement that the state would re-establish access to state land surrounded by her property “bluster.”

Roxanne Quimby, who owns land east of Baxter State Park and has led a controversial push to establish a national park in the area, said in a post on social media Saturday that she takes no issue with state’s desire to establish access to its parcel across her property, but called the governor’s announcement “political grandstanding.”

Friday afternoon, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands said it started to re-establish access to 2,500 public acres surrounded by Quimby’s property by plowing and repairing roads in the area.

LePage later said the push was a response to concerns about a “federal takeover,” putting himself into the tempestuous debate over the proposed park and land rights.

“The [right of way] to the public land cited by the governor has never been denied,” Quimby responded Saturday. “With little wood of commercial value to harvest, the [right of way] has not been maintained by the state. If the state wishes to upgrade its [right of way] to begin a harvesting operation, so be it. No argument from us.”

She argued that Friday’s announcement by the governor was an effort to “distract his constituents from his failure to create a vision of sustainable economic well being in the region.” The paper industry has departed from the area in the past decade.

The governor’s office did not respond to a message requesting comment Saturday.

The governor’s move came a day after members of Maine’s congressional delegation criticized the federal government for a letter that was noncommittal on whether President Barack Obama would make the property a national monument.

The North Woods park idea is perhaps Maine’s hottest public debate: It was rejected last year in advisory votes in East Millinocket and Medway, but Quimby’s family, led by her son, Lucas St. Clair, has been lobbying Obama to give it national monument status, which — unlike a national park — doesn’t require congressional approval.

BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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