Large landowners close primitive campgrounds in northern Maine due to COVID-19

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Though many of the campsites you find on North Maine Woods Inc. land are not the typical campgrounds one might find elsewhere in Maine, members of the organization have announced they're honoring the spirit of Gov. Janet Mills's recent executive order that closes lodging establishments and will shut down its own campsites until at least May 1.
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Though many of the campsites you find on North Maine Woods Inc. land are not the typical campgrounds one might find elsewhere in Maine, members of the organization have announced they’re honoring the spirit of Gov. Janet Mills’s recent executive order that closes lodging establishments and will shut down their own campsites until at least May 1.

On April 3, Mills issued an executive order that would suspend lodging operations, including campgrounds, and all public and private camping facilities.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

North Maine Woods campsites are primitive and often consist of a simple fire ring, picnic table and toilet, but members of NMW wanted to leave no doubt that they’re respecting the governor’s order.

Members of North Maine Woods Inc., a community of landowners who own 3.5 million acres of the state’s commercial forest, met on Tuesday and declared all of the organization’s campsites closed.

“We are following the Governor’s directive to close the North Maine Woods and the KI Jo-Mary Forest regions to camping at least until May 1 or until the state of emergency is lifted,” North Maine Woods executive director Al Cowperthwaite said

According to the NMW’s inventory of campsites, the organization maintains a total of 330 sites at 144 locations. Many of those locations have just a single campsite available, while some others may have as many as eight sites at one spot. Reservations are not accepted, and those seeking to camp operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cowperthwaite said members also wanted to stress that in many cases, the roads and campsites in the North Maine Woods are not fit for travel at the current time.

“There is still snow covering campsites and blocking most side roads. Frost is coming out of the main forest roads so they are muddy, soft and extremely susceptible to damage caused by passenger vehicle traffic at this time of year,” Cowperthwaite said. “If someone was to get stuck or injured, there is little chance that emergency personnel would be able to respond during this time.”

Cowperthwaite said the group will post updates on its website and on its Facebook page as needed.

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