Brunswick, ME – The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is deeply concerned about a move this week by President Trump to significantly shrink two national monuments. Further recommendations by the U.S. Department of the Interior to shrink two more national monuments, and greatly modify several others, are also troubling. AMC opposes rescinding, shrinking, or otherwise diminishing the protections for these special places.
Implications of these sweeping changes include uncertainty about the future of the 1906 Antiquities Act, and the permanency of national monument designations across the country. The Antiquities Act has been used to ensure the protection of remarkable landscapes, including the initial protection of what is now Acadia National Park and more recently, the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
AMC supported the 2016 designation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine, including actively participating in years of public discussion and local meetings about protecting these lands.
In the spring of 2017 President Trump issued an Executive Order calling for the review of 27 monuments by the U.S. Department of the Interior. This process included a comment period which generated more than 2.4 million public comments, overwhelmingly supportive of the monuments. As part of that review, more than a quarter-million people spoke up in support of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Fewer than 100 commented in opposition.
Despite broad support for national monuments across the country, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended significant changes to a number of monuments, including proposing to amend the Proclamation currently protecting the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (KWWNM). Secretary Zinke’s recommendation calls for “active timber management” at KWWNM and developing a management plan to “prioritize public access, infrastructure upgrades, repair, maintenance, traditional use, tribal cultural use, and hunting and fishing rights.”
AMC believes that any modifications to the initial designated uses of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument should be consistent with applicable laws and the intentions of the private landowner’s gift of land, and arrived at through the ongoing management planning process.
“AMC members and supporters have been recreating on these lands and waters for more than a century,” said Susan Arnold, AMC vice president for conservation. “As we’ve seen with AMC-owned and protected conservation lands in Maine’s North Woods, visitors drawn to the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument have been a boost for the local economy, and will continue to drive economic growth in the region and the entire state of Maine.”
Furthermore, AMC has serious concerns about the meaning and intent of the recommendation for “active timber management.” With limited exceptions we do not believe that active timber management is necessary to restore or maintain forest health, and on-going commercial timber harvesting is not an appropriate use of KWWNM. To a large degree the restoration of native forest composition and structure following over a century of commercial harvesting should be allowed to proceed through natural forest development without human intervention. There may be situations where active management is warranted and beneficial; these could include removal of plantations of non-native species and control of invasive exotic species and pests. These limited exceptions will need to be clearly spelled out in the management plan, not arbitrarily added to the Proclamation.
AMC supports the recommendation to continue with the management planning process and looks forward to being an active participant in the process.