A nonprofit organization has been formed to support the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument six months after President Obama created it.

The Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters is a private group that plans to work with and support the mission of the National Park Service, which manages the monument.

Lucas St. Clair, president of the friends group, said the group will focus on building volunteer opportunities, developing education programs and advocating for the monument.

“Eventually, the nonprofit organization will provide financial support for specific projects in the monument and surrounding communities, raise private funds to supplement – not replace – federal appropriations, protect the integrity of the monument and its resources and speak for users in the betterment of monument resources,” St. Clair said in a statement announcing the group’s formation.

LEPAGE WANTS OBAMA’S ORDER SCAPPED

Obama signed an executive order last year designating nearly 90,000 acres formerly owned by philanthropist and entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby to the U.S. Department of the Interior and National Park Service. The Quimby family gave the National Park Service a $40 million endowment for the project. Lucas St. Clair is Roxanne Quimby’s son and was the public face of the family’s effort to create the national monument.

Gov. Paul LePage wrote to President Trump in February asking him to reverse the executive order that created the monument and return the land to private ownership. It is unclear if a president can undo an executive order creating a monument.

If returning the land to private ownership is not feasible, LePage said he believes the land should be managed by the state “to ensure it can benefit all Maine people” and accommodate the region’s needs.

GROUP AIMS TO FURTHER RECREATION

Members of the friends group say the national monument already has excellent hiking, paddling, biking and cross-country skiing, but they want to help the National Park Service identify and develop additional opportunities for outdoor recreation.

“Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument can become a first-class destination for visitors to northern Maine,” Anita Mueller, vice president of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the National Park Service to develop services, facilities and programs that will make the experience of visiting the national monument a wonderful, lifetime memory.”

Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters now has a 13-member board of directors and will immediately begin adding more members.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at:

[email protected]