This week, the residents of Medway and East Millinocket will vote on whether to support the proposed Katahdin Woods and Waters National Park.

The votes will not be the deciding factor in the creation of the national park, but they will undoubtedly show that people understand the great benefits it will have for the region.

I explored some of the proposed park this winter and found a beautiful wilderness that would complement Acadia’s rocky coast and Baxter’s rugged mountains as another big draw for visitors to our state.

As a long-distance hiker on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, and as a wilderness backpacking instructor in the Rockies, I’ve visited towns all over the country that have fallen from their industrial high points, but have rebounded by embracing outdoor recreation and tourism.

The Katahdin region has an abundance of wilderness and natural beauty that remains relatively unknown to the world at large compared to Acadia and coastal tourist towns. It’s time to share that treasure with the rest of the world and to start a renaissance for the region by creating a national park.

Ryan Linn