Days after Gov. Paul LePage asked President Donald Trump to reverse the executive order that created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, leading monument proponent Lucas St. Clair announced the formation of a non-profit group dedicated to protecting and supporting it.
Like Friends of Acadia, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters will work to preserve the beauty, ecological vitality and distinctive cultural resources of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and surrounding communities, said St. Clair, the group’s president.
“Initially, the friends group will focus on building volunteer opportunities, developing education programs and advocating for the monument,” St. Clair said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Eventually, the nonprofit organization will provide financial support for specific projects in the monument and surrounding communities, raise private funds to supplement — not replace — federal appropriations, protect the integrity of the monument and its resources, and speak for users in the betterment of monument operations,” he added.
The son of Burt’s Bees entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby, St. Clair quarterbacked the effort that resulted in President Barack Obama designating the monument on 87,563 acres of Quimby family land on Aug. 24.
In his statement Tuesday, St. Clair does not mention the governor’s two-page letter dated Feb. 14 asking Trump to enact the reversal of the monument designation “before economic damage occurs and traditional recreational pursuits are diminished.”
It is unclear whether a president can undo an executive order creating a monument. Several attorneys general dating back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s have issued opinions that presidents lack the authority to abolish national monuments, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
Trump has yet to publicly respond to LePage’s letter.
The new private group formed to support the monument is not part of the National Park Service but intends to work collaboratively with National Park Service workers who manage the monument, St. Clair said, much the way the Friends of Acadia group works with Acadia National Park workers.
David MacDonald, president of Friends of Acadia in Bar Harbor, said his group looks forward to “a resource and partner with our friends to the north.”
Friends of Acadia has granted more than $25 million to the park and surrounding communities since its founding in 1986. The funded projects have included youth programs, restoration of Acadia’s trails and carriage roads, and establishment of the fare-free Island Explorer bus system.
Katahdin Woods and Waters Superintendent Tim Hudson said he looks forward to working with the Katahdin Friends group. The group is launching with a 13-member board of directors and has an immediate goal of attracting additional members. Members of the public can join the group by going to friendsofkatahdinwoodsandwaters.org.