Q: Where is the new Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument?

A: The national monument is located on several parcels in the Unorganized Territories bordering Baxter State Park’s eastern boundary. Specifically, the area spans all or part of the following townships and ranges: T3 R7, T3 R8, T4 R7, T4 R8, T5 R7 and T5 R8.

Q: When does the monument open?

A: The national monument is open and accessible to the public today, although don’t expect many visitor services at this point. The property is open 24 hours a day, year-round.

Q: How do I get to this place?

A: The remote property is currently accessible via several dirt, woods roads out of the Millinocket and Patten areas, according to a map posted on the monument’s website. Those roads include: Swift Brook Road and Sherman Lumber Company Road off of Route 11 in the south, Grondins Road off of Route 159, and Bowlin Pond Road off of Grand Lake Road in the north. The National Park Service advises that vehicles with high ground clearance are recommended for travel into the monument. The park services advises against visiting the monument in RVs or in vehicles towing trailers.

Q: What should I expect to see?

A: Much of the property was harvested repeatedly by timber companies between the early 1800s and their acquisition by Roxanne Quimby during the past 10 to 20 years. Areas harvested more recently are now regenerating. Like much of Maine’s North Woods, the monument land features a mix of wooded hills and mountains, swampy or marshy areas, lakes and ponds. Some of the biggest attractions to the monument will likely be the East Branch of the Penobscot River and Wassataquoik Streams, both of which were used by such historic visitors as John James Audubon, Henry David Thoreau and Theodore Roosevelt while visiting the Katahdin region. Parts of the property also offer views of Mount Katahdin, which is located in adjacent Baxter State Park.

Q: Is there an entrance fee?

A: There are currently no entrance fees to use the monument, although the National Park Service could impose fees in the future as it does for other park and monument sites.

Q: What can I do there?

A: Hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, wildlife-watching and cross-country skiing/snowshoeing will be available throughout the monument lands. Snowmobiling will be allowed on established trails per an existing agreement with the state of Maine. Hunting will be allowed on four separate parcels located east of the East Branch of the Penobscot River but will be prohibited west of the East Branch.

Q: Where can I stay?

A: Camping is allowed at several campsites and lean-tos that were already established by Elliotsville Plantation Inc. There are also several huts or cabins available to the public. But the National Park Service cautions there are currently “no services for water, food or fuel within the monument boundary” and that “sanitary facilities are limited to a few vault toilets.”

Q: Where can I get more information?

A: Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument has a website that provides basic information, including a map. The monument also has a phone number: (207) 456-6001.

Q: What is a national monument and how is it different from a national park?

A: National monuments and national parks are both federally protected lands. While all national parks and many national monuments are managed by the National Park Service, monuments can also be managed by other federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Many of the same recreational activities are available on both classifications of land. The biggest difference between national parks and national monuments is the way they are created. Only Congress can authorize the creation of a national park, typically via legislation sponsored by the home state’s congressional delegation. The Antiquities Act of 1906 allows presidents to designate national monuments through executive orders, however, in order to quickly protect “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” on federally owned land.

Q: Why did Quimby seek a monument rather than a national park?

A: Despite years of lobbying, the Quimby family failed to win support from all members of Maine’s congressional delegations – past and present – for a national park in the face of opposition from some local residents as well as the forest products industry. Instead, they shifted to a monument designation because it only requires presidential authority. And President Obama has used that executive authority more than any other president, creating roughly two dozen new monuments during the past seven-plus years. He is expected to designate additional lands in his final five months in office.

Q: Could the Maine North Woods land still become a national park even with the national monument designation?

A: Yes. In fact, Mainers need look no farther than Acadia National Park for an example of this path to parkhood. Acadia began its life under federal ownership as Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916, but was upgraded to Lafayette National Park – the first official national park in the East – three years later. It was renamed Acadia National Park in 1929. And there are plenty of other examples of monuments that became parks, including Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons and Zion national parks.