National monument created; leader to speak at Unity College

Lucas St. Clair to provide details of sweeping new public park at Unity College Center for the Performing Arts

 

UNITY, Maine — Lucas St. Clair, who led the successful campaign to have more than 87,000 acres declared a national monument in northern Maine, will speak at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts on the intense effort and the way forward.

The event — part of the annual Maine Woods Forever roundtable at Unity College — will feature St. Clair speaking at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16 at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St., Unity. The event — a partnership between Unity College and Maine Woods Forever — is free and open to the public and the media.

“Unity College, America’s Environmental College, continues to help convene conversations that matter deeply to the people of Maine,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “With academic programs ranging from Wildlife Biology to Adventure Therapy and Parks and Forest Resources, Unity students and faculty are in the perfect position to help evaluate the economic, environmental, and social impact of a major initiative like the North Woods monument.”

After a multi-year campaign that balanced values of conservation and industry in an area riven by the collapse of the paper industry, President Obama announced Wednesday he has signed an executive order creating the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, a day after philanthropist landowner Roxanne Quimby transferred 87,563 acres of her property in Maine to the federal government.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the order states that the Department of the Interior will manage the property through the National Park Service, in line with Quimby’s stated requirements. It allows “hunting by the public on the parcels east of the East Branch of the Penobscot River” plus snowmobiling, and orders that a management plan be created with full public involvement in three years.

The declaration is the culmination of about four years of leadership by St. Clair, who took on “a seven-days-per-week workload featuring hundreds of meetings and thousands of phone calls and emails,” according to the Bangor Daily News.

“It has been an all-consuming process,” he told the paper. “The biggest benefit is a decision has been made. We are no longer debating about whether it will happen. We can work together in a very different capacity now because we know what we are working on. That attitude is so exciting to me. Now we can talk about how we can make sure that” all the monument’s neighbors benefit from it.”

The executive order praises the Quimby lands as being rich in culture, natural beauty and “significant biodiversity.”

“At Unity College, Maine is our classroom, and I’m looking forward to talking with Mr. St. Clair about the educational opportunities that could accompany formation of the national monument,” Khoury said. “This is truly a significant development for anyone who loves Maine, appreciates our natural resources, and understands their importance to Maine’s economic and social health.”

“As an educator, I’m excited to hear more about the process that led to this historic decision,” Unity College Professor of Parks and Forest Resources Tom Mullin said. “Our students will benefit greatly hearing from Lucas about how a major national monument came to be, and how it will be implemented going forward.”

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