Proceeds will benefit the park and Friends of Baxter State Park programs.
Friends of Baxter State Park is holding a sign auction through Dec. 6.
The nonprofit organization that helps support and preserve the wilderness of the 209,644-acre park, is auctioning off retired Baxter State Park trail signs as a fundraiser.
The auction includes 15 signs from favorite locations like Mount OJI, the Saddle Trail, Katahdin Lake, the Freezeout Trail, the Appalachian Trail, Kidney Pond and Mount Coe.
A special addition to the auction is the dinner bell from Kidney Pond Camps, a historic Maine sporting camp that is now one of Baxter State Park’s most popular campgrounds.
“These signs are one-of-a-kind keepsakes for anyone who enjoys hiking and camping in Baxter State Park” said Aaron Megquier, the executive director of the Friends group, in a news release. Many of the signs are well-worn, showing their exposure to harsh alpine conditions — or in some cases, the park’s resident wildlife.
The organization will donate half of the auction proceeds directly to Baxter State Park. The remaining proceeds will support Friends programs such as the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps, a new program that hires teens from the Katahdin region for summer trail work in the park.
Bidding closes at midnight Wednesday, Dec. 6. The auction is entirely online and may be accessed at 32auctions.com/fbsp.
A hiker from South Jersey had to be rescued from one of Maine’s highest mountains on Saturday afternoon.
The unidentified 29-year-old woman from Moorestown was medevaced off Pamola Peak in Baxter State Park when she fell ill while hiking with five other people, park officials said in a news release.
It took a park ranger 80 minutes to reach the group after a 911 call was placed at 11:57 a.m. The Maine Army National Guard Air Evac unit removed the woman at 4:20 p.m. and flew her to Millinocket Regional Hospital after it was determined she’d require further treatment.
Officials noted that had there been lower cloud cover or rainy weather, an evacuation by helicopter would not have been possible. Instead, transporting a patient from the 4,919 foot mountain to the nearest road would have required 30-40 people and would have taken 24-36 hours to complete, according to park officials.
Pamola Peak is about a mile away from Baxter Peak on Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine at 5,267 feet.
The more than 200,000 acre park is in the wilderness of north-central Maine and is roughly the same size as Middlesex County, New Jersey.
The federal government isn’t coming to the Katahdin region to steal land.
Jonathan Jarvis, head of the National Park Service, is not coming to Maine today in preparation for a federal takeover. He’s not even here to find a way to protect the land in question – owned by conservationist Roxanne Quimby, the 87,500-acre parcel east of Baxter State Park will likely remain as it is in perpetuity, regardless of the outcome of the national park debate.
No, Jarvis is in Maine to see whether the land should receive the significant exposure and prominence that comes with a federal designation, and whether the designation can be administered in a way that satisfies local concerns.
The people of the Katahdin region, and everyone with a stake in the future of the area, should enter that discussion with good faith, because the highest and best use of the Quimby property is as a national monument then a national park, with the potential to draw thousands of new visitors, as well as new investment.
PATH TO A PARK
Jarvis plans to hold public meetings today in Orono and East Millinocket, both moderated by Sen. Angus King, and the latter with selectmen from five Millinocket-area communities.
Following a visit to the region in 2014, and coming soon after Maine’s congressional delegation and the Obama administration exchanged letters regarding the land’s future, the meetings are seen as a signal that President Obama is considering the land for a national monument designation.
Available to the president to unilaterally protect “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest,” the designation is often a precursor to a national park, which requires an act of Congress.
That’s the path taken by Grand Canyon and Grand Teton national parks, as well as our own Acadia National Park, which like Quimby’s proposal faced stiff opposition, but now sees more than 2 million visitors a year.
Although a North Woods national park enjoys strong statewide support – 67 percent, according to one poll – as well as the backing of the Katahdin area chamber of commerce and Rotary Club, nonbinding referendums in towns near the land have gone overwhelmingly against the idea, and the forest products industry that drives the region’s economy is strongly against it, as well.
The skepticism is understandable. Maine has very little experience dealing with federal ownership of land. Instead, almost unfettered public use of private property has allowed recreation and industry to live symbiotically for generations.
A WAY TO COEXIST
There is fear that the involvement of the federal government would disrupt that, adding to all the change and uncertainty already gripping the region.
But there’s no reason a park can’t coexist with the forest products industry while bringing its own benefits, which include the distinction of being a national park and the massive marketing power that comes with it.
A study commissioned by Quimby’s organization, and reviewed by well-regarded economists, predicts a 150,000-acre national park – the ultimate goal, supported by a $40 million endowment from Quimby – would create 450-1,000 jobs with above-average pay, just as parks have done in areas of similar size and demographics.
Alternately, harvesting timber on the land would sustain only 21 jobs, and contribute less than 1 percent of the total harvest in Maine.
But concerns remain about how the park would affect the surrounding area. Will it cut off long-standing snowmobile trails and logging roads? Will it impose tighter enviromental restrictions that limit the ability of the forest products industry to operate? Will its boundaries eventually expand without the input of local residents?
Those concerns were laid out in a letter to Jarvis from the congressional delegation – minus Rep. Chellie Pingree, who is in favor of a park – and Jarvis is open to addressing them.
Wariness of the park proposal is reasonable, as is the need to get assurances, in writing, that opponents’ fears won’t be realized.
But dismissing the proposal out of hand because the federal government is involved is absurd, and detrimental to the future of the region.
In 2000, Robbins Lumber put a conservation easement on the 20,767 acres surrounding Nicatous and West Lakes to protect the land forever. In addition, the state acquired 76 islands and 243 acres connecting to the Duck Lake Public Reserve Unit.
I told Roxanne Quimby about this project in 2011 at a meeting of the Maine Forest Products Council because I wanted her to know she had other options — options that would unite Mainers, not divide them. Her answer was, “There is no plan B. It is a national park or nothing. There are no other options.”
I oppose her park and national recreation area because she only owns 87,500 acres of the 150,000 acres she promises to donate. The other 63,500 acres are owned by many individual landowners — many of the parcels have been in these landowners’ families for generations. How would you like it if someone promised to give your land away? Threatened? You bet.
She has tried to win over the people of the Katahdin region with the prospect of jobs based on the theory that her park would attract 15 percent, or 375,000, of Acadia’s visitors each year, leading to the creation of 450 jobs. But her park would never attract six times as many visitors as Baxter State Park. Baxter has 200,000 acres, including Mt. Katahdin, compared to the proposed 150,000 acres of the national park. Baxter employs only 21 full-time and 40 part-time workers.
National parks and monuments are built in areas of spectacular beauty or historical significance. The proposed park is mostly cut-over timberland and has very little to attract tourists. The only exceptional beauty in the area already is included and protected in Baxter State Park. The park proponents always show pictures of Katahdin, which won’t be in the proposed park, in their videos and advertisements, which is very misleading to the public.
National parks don’t allow timber harvesting, so they soon become full of over-mature, insect-infested and diseased trees. A National Park Service publication on forest management in Yellowstone National Park states that large fires are mandatory in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in order to maintain it in a natural manner. Since the 1970s, park officials have allowed some 300 natural fires to burn themselves out. In recent decades, 1,250 square miles burned in Yellowstone, 402 square miles burned in Yosemite and many square miles burn virtually every year in Glacier National Park.
Have we already forgotten the devastating forest fires out West last summer? Do we want that policy to exist in our beautiful managed forests in Maine? I think not. Forest fires don’t respect boundary lines, so all lands surrounding the park will be threatened.
An average acre of woodland in Maine produces 0.35 cords of wood per year and is worth $1,280 with value added. Some 150,000 acres of forest should, therefore, produce 52,500 cords per year, which works out to an annual loss to the Maine GDP of more than $67 million. At a recent conference on Maine’s paper industry, speakers stated that one reason paper mills are having a hard time surviving is because of the high cost of wood. Taking the equivalent of six townships out of production certainly isn’t going to help. Even though the paper mills in the Millinocket region are gone, that wood is needed by other mills in the state, as Maine is still a net importer of wood.
Our family has operated a sawmill in Searsmont for five generations. I know we need to manage all of our productive woodlands wisely to supply wood products for the earth’s ever-growing population, which is expanding at a rate of 80 million people per year. The United States already has 266 million acres of national parks, wilderness areas and preserves where no wood can be cut. That’s about 13 times the size of the entire size of the state of Maine. How much more do we need?
If a national park is established, there will always be the danger of it expanding. Acadia National Park is constantly expanding and just recently added 1,400 acres on Schoodic Peninsula despite a 1986 law that the park service would never expand beyond then-agreed-upon boundaries.
I urge Quimby to establish a conservation easement such as Nicatous Lake. It would be available for recreation, it would remain in the tax base, wildlife and other resources would be protected and the wood would still be available. Everyone comes out a winner.
James L. Robbins is former president and owner of Robbins Lumber in Searsmont.
Bradenton man to hike trail to spotlight military vet issues
Christopher Davis’ dream was to one day hike the Appalachian Trail to bring awareness to a cause closest to his heart — returning veterans.
To do on someone’s time clock would be an unexpected treat.
His dream has come true.
By RICHARD DYMOND
email@example.com May 12, 2014 website
Davis made a pitch about a year ago to his new boss, Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota.
“There is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Davis told Rosinsky. “When I was sitting in Afghanistan in 2002 with the U.S. Army, I promised myself that if I lived through the war, I would walk the entire Appalachian Trail for a good cause.”
Davis proposed his “good cause” would shine light on the issue of military veterans coming home and having trouble accessing services.
Rosinsky immediately said “yes” even though it meant Davis would be physically out of pocket for five months, hiking with a backpack between Mount Katahdin, Maine, and Springer Mountain, Ga., while remaining on the payroll.
“Chris is still part of our team,” Rosinsky said. “It’s kind of a redeployment for Chris.”
As it turns out, the story of Davis’ May 28-to-Thanksgiving trek and why Rosinsky said yes is as much about Rosinsky and his enthusiasm and passion for military veterans as it is about his bucket list adventure.
‘One step at a time’
Davis, 35, was hired by Rosinsky in January 2013 to be the veteran’s program manager for Goodwill Manasota’s new American Veterans and Their Families Initiative.
Goodwill Manasota is well known locally as a not-for-profit organization whose mission is “changing lives through the power of work.”
It helped 329 veterans find jobs in 2013, according to Goodwill Manasota records.
But Rosinsky said he wanted to go beyond just landing jobs for veterans.
Working with an annual budget of roughly $100,000, Davis helps veterans and their families when they are down and out. Program funding comes from grants and sales of donated items.
“Chris provides information for vets to get housing, jobs, insurance, benefits, social integration, clothing, food, legal aide, transportation and medical,” said Yen Reed, director of marketing for Goodwill Manasota. “He works with hundreds of community partners.”
Rosinsky said Davis has done a stellar job.
“People have visited and said that our program has gotten more traction than other vet programs they are aware of,” Rosinsky said. “I believe the progress we are making is due to Chris.
“Chris’ program is evolving,” Rosinsky added. “We hope to provide services for every veteran in the drawdown as we leave Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a lot of people struggling. We hope that Goodwill is the doorway past that struggle.”
It’s hard to imagine a CEO giving the green light to a key employee to hike the Appalachian Trail for five months, but Rosinsky is more than OK with it.
“I immediately considered the fact that the screen got bigger for us to project on,” Rosinsky said. “We can reach a national audience and get people to recognize that vets need assistance.”
While Davis is gone, his assistant, Don Hill, will run the program, Rosinsky said.
Davis said he thinks the Appalachian Trail will be symbolic for veterans.
“It’s not how high or low we go on the peaks or valleys. It’s taking one step after another,” said Davis who graduated from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee last week as the Outstanding Graduate after serving 14 years with the U.S. Army with seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I will make it to Georgia because I will keep walking. I think that’s the message we want to send to vets, ‘If you just take one step and then another, you will get there.'”
Davis can thank the late Guy Kelnhofer of Wisconsin for making his Appalachian trek a reality. Kelnhofer, Rosinsky’s uncle, was captured in Wake Island during World War II and spent four years in a prisoner-of-war camp.
“I saw some of the issues he had coming back,” Rosinsky said.
Rosinsky noted veterans like his uncle don’t always get needed services but it’s not because the services are not available.
“When vets come out, they tend to get isolated,” Rosinsky said. “It’s not so much that things aren’t out there, it’s just that there is a lack of focus and a lack of assistance to help them access what is there,”
30,000-plus Manatee County vets
Manatee County has 36,000 veterans, Davis said.
“The 2011 census reported 81,000 veterans in Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Hardee counties,” Davis said. “Manatee is definitely in the top three of Florida’s counties for number of vets.
“There are young vets as well,” Davis added.
Davis recalled a recent case where he helped a vet access a Veteran’s Administration housing program for chronically homeless vets.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to what we can do to put vets back on track,” Davis said.
Goodwill Manasota will be getting a lot of value out of Davis’ trek, Rosinsky said.
“Chris is going to do a blog where people can follow him every day (available through experiencegoodwill.org or linked directly at trailjournals.com/goodwillwalking),” Rosinsky said. “We will also hook up with media all along the trek and give updates on his progress. Some people will go out and walk with him.”
Rosinsky plans to meet Davis at Harper’s Ferry, W. Va., in August and walk about 100 miles over a week.
Davis is also fundraising. People can donate from five cents to $1 per mile at experiencegoodwill.org, which will have links on the home page, Reed said.
“Whether he raises $2,000, $10,000 or $50,000 for his program is inconsequential when you look at the impact of raising awareness over that longer period of time,” Rosinsky said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.