Maine national monument backers are holding a $100-a-ticket fundraiser a day after federal officials are due to announce the fate of one of Maine’s most heavily scrutinized chunks of land.
The 200 tickets that Maine Beer Co. of Freeport will start selling on Wednesday are part of the first major fundraiser to help collect $20 million for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The event is set for Aug. 25 — the day after Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is due to rule on the legality of the executive order that designated the site.
The timing of the party didn’t appear to worry monument proponent Lucas St. Clair, who expressed confidence that Zinke will recommend leaving Katahdin Woods intact.
“I think it will go well,” St. Clair said Wednesday. “Legally, they [federal officials] can’t do anything.”
At issue with Zinke’s review is the future of the monument, which proponents say will help revitalize the struggling Katahdin region and opponents call a boondoggle created despite intense local opposition. It is unclear whether presidents can rescind monuments, although Congress can.
St. Clair’s family has created a $20 million endowment and pledged to raise another $20 million for monument maintenance as part of its sales pitch for a failed effort to have their 87,562 acres east of Baxter State Park designated a national park.
The family changed its focus in 2015 when it became clear that the park initiative was a nonstarter. And in a quirk of timing, then-President Barack Obama issued the executive order that created the monument on Aug. 24, 2016 — exactly one year prior to the finish of Zinke’s review.
President Donald Trump ordered Zinke to determine whether Obama’s deliberations had adequate public outreach to relevant stakeholders — though the Antiquities Act of 1906 grants presidents the authority to create monuments.
The law also specifies that monuments must fill the smallest possible footprint, and in his recent tours of some of the 27 monuments Trump ordered reviewed, Zinke has shown that he will go beyond the president’s mandate to address his own ideas.
Zinke’s Katahdin Woods decision might come before Aug. 24. He has already reduced to 24 the list of 27 monuments under review. On July 13, he advised making no changes in the status of Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in Idaho and Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington state. Also, on July 21 he recommended leaving untouched Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
Maine Beer hopes the party, which will be held at New England Outdoors Center just outside Millinocket, will draw more people to the monument, said Anne Marisic, the company’s marketing and events coordinator.
“This is something that we feel is a really special part of Maine and obviously we want to support it,” Marisic said Wednesday.