Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will visit Maine’s national monument next week as part of a federal review of whether it was created legally, he said Thursday.
“I can’t wait to see it. My understanding is that I am going to go canoeing, which is something that Maine is known for,” Zinke said in response to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, who mentioned the visit.
Zinke said he will gauge residents’ feelings about the monument in the 9½ months since President Barack Obama signed an executive order creating it. Zinke will meet with members of the family of Burt’s Bees entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby, who donated the 87,562 acres east of Baxter State Park.
Zinke’s comments came during a discussion of the federal budget. The hearing is available here:
Pingree, a subcommittee member, is a monument supporter and has criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order seeking Zinke’s review of 27 monuments. The review is due by Aug. 24.
Supporters hope Katahdin Woods will continue to aid a Katahdin region economy that has been devastated by paper mill closures. Critics, including Gov. Paul LePage, have derided the monument as federal overreach that will not help Maine.
Zinke said he will determine whether the monument designation was properly applied to Quimby’s gift.
“My sense is this,” Zinke said. “I don’t intend to rip up Band-Aids where there is no [wound]. Many of our monuments are to a degree settled. There are some controversial ones more than others, but is it in the best public interest?”
Zinke will also see whether Katahdin Woods has enough infrastructure to fulfill its mission. During a visit to Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, he found no signs, lavatories or parking lots, he said.
Katahdin Woods has those things, but no signs on state roads. LePage has banned them until Zinke’s review is finished.
As part of his review, Zinke seeks comment on the monument. To submit one online, click here, enter “DOI-2017-0002” in the search bar and click, “Search.” Or mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.