My family owns a cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, as do many Mainers who love hiking. Right behind our cabin, about 10 miles off Route 16, is the Sandwich Range Wilderness, designated by President Ronald Reagan in his last days in office.

Because many in that part of New Hampshire are outdoors people – mushers, fishermen, snowmobilers, hunting guides, et al. – there were concerns that this protection would be destructive of access and use. (Similar fears are sometimes voiced about the proposed Maine Woods National Monument right now.)

The exact opposite has proved to be true. Protection has made that area much more prosperous and secure.

As the years go by, more and more people are using the woods for recreation and education. These visits enrich the local people and create new businesses, which do not cause damage to the land, water or animals there.

Little cleanup is needed from this kind of human activity; most pack in and pack out. All of us benefit, as we recreate there.

Many interests are sharing and defining who develops what, in a locally controlled process informed by their own estimate of economic realities for the future. Real estate buyers want to be near these lands to hike, fish, camp, boat, swim, birdwatch, photograph, collect minerals, etc.

When we had the economic recession in 2007-09, properties near the protected lands lost the least value and rebounded the quickest. Some – the closest ones – never lost value.

It’s a new day. Please join me in encouraging President Obama and our congressional delegation, especially U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, to embrace this Maine Woods National Monument for northern Maine’s future prosperity as it recovers from the losses of the paper industry, as well as for our grandchildren’s well-being.

As my forester niece says, these woods are the lungs of our planet.

Walden S. Morton

Cape Elizabeth