PORTLAND, Maine — Road signs directing motorists to the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument are going to be installed — eventually — now that Republican Gov. Paul LePage has relented in his opposition to the signs on Interstate 95 and state roads leading to the Mount Katahdin region.
The Maine Department of Transportation will allow signs to be manufactured and installed now that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended keeping the monument and a renewed request has been submitted by the superintendent for the federal land, the governor’s office said.
“This is fantastic news. This is what I’ve been waiting to hear,” Lucas St. Clair, whose family donated the land, said Tuesday.
It’s unclear when the signs would be installed, however.
The Maine DOT is still sorting out placement, size and costs, and there’s no timetable for erecting the signs, Ted Talbot, Maine DOT spokesman, said Tuesday.
The request made by Katahdin Woods and Waters Superintendent Tim Hudson, first reported by Maine Public, seeks six signs on Interstate 95 and 11 additional signs on major state roads.
The largest of the signs is roughly 8-by-22 feet and typically cost between $10,000 and $15,000, he said Tuesday.
The wooded wilderness includes a 17-mile loop road with stunning views of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain, along with trails for hiking, mountain biking and snowmobiling, and paddling on the Penobscot River’s East Branch.
But motorists would be hard-pressed to find it without a map. There are no official signs, and a homemade sign was removed by state officials.
St. Clair said he’s heard from many people who’ve inquired about which exit to take on I-95 or reported that they got lost.
Last year, the LePage administration balked at the signs pending completion of a review by the Trump administration. But Zinke has since visited the land, described it as “beautiful country” and recommended no changes to the 87,500-acre (137-square-mile) property.
Supporters of the federal land managed by the National Park Service said the lack of signs hurt the ability to draw visitors to the economically troubled Katahdin region.
Katahdin Woods and Waters was visited by at least 15,000 people in its first year, and the number doubles when snowmobiles are added to the mix.
*photo – FILE – In this Aug. 6, 2017, file photo, motorists travel on Rte. 11 south of Patten, Maine, near the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Road signs directing motorists to the national monument are going to be installed now that Republican Gov. Paul LePage has relented in his opposition to the signs on Interstate 95 and state roads leading to the Mount Katahdin region. The Maine Department of Transportation will allow signs to be manufactured and installed now that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended keeping the monument and a renewed request has been submitted by the superintendent for the federal land, the governor’s office said. Robert F. Bukaty / AP
Here is a photo of Mount Katahdin in the background as two snowmobilers pass. It was a crystal clear day and very cold. Perfect for taking this great shot! Thanks to Rick LeVasseur from 5 Lakes Lodge for the great photo and Maine-Snowmobiling.com for showing it to the world! Oh, and thanks for letting us share it, too!
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.