AUGUSTA — A largely symbolic bill expressing the Legislature’s disapproval of a potential North Woods national monument – or any other monuments in Maine – is headed to the governor’s desk.

On Monday, the Senate voted 18-17 to give final passage to a measure that says the Legislature does not consent to the federal government’s acquisition of any land for the purpose of designating a national monument in Maine. While critics of the bill point out that states cannot supersede the federal government in such decisions, supporters have argued that the bill would send a message to the Obama administration.

The bill is aimed at thwarting, or at least slowing, attempts to create a national monument on land in the Katahdin region.

Business entrepreneur and conservationist Roxanne Quimby originally proposed donating more than 70,000 acres that she owns east of Baxter State Park to the federal government for a national park. But only Congress can create a national park – an unlikely outcome for the North Woods land now, given the reluctance or resistance to the idea among some members of Maine’s congressional delegation.

By contrast, presidents can create national monuments by executive order, so Quimby’s nonprofit foundation, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., has shifted to pursuing national monument status as an interim step toward a national park.

Gov. Paul LePage introduced the bill, L.D. 1600. As originally introduced, the bill sought to prevent the federal government from designating land as a national monument. The revised version passed by both the House and Senate specifies that the Maine Legislature doesn’t give its consent to the federal government to acquire land for a monument.

The House previously voted 77-73 in support of the bill.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

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