The continued death spiral of Maine’s paper industry and the fact that 2016 is the centennial of the National Park Service and Acadia National Park make now the time to create a national park and recreation area in Maine’s north woods, preserving the dark and providing a new light for local communities.

Although a resident of Burlington, my work affords me the opportunity to travel throughout Central Asia. I have visited the Tien Shan and Pamir mountains, traveled to the windswept steppe of Kazakhstan, seen the ecological wasteland of the Aral Sea and the sands of the Karakum Desert.

After seeing so many amazing places, I can affirm that the natural beauty of Maine’s Katahdin region is as great as or greater than that of the wonders I have seen in Central Asia.

My previous career experience involved over 20 years in the Hubble Space Telescope project. During my youth in the 1960s, the Milky Way was clearly visible even 50 miles from New York City.

Those days are gone. Many ground-based observatories have to fight the ever-increasing light pollution threatening every remaining dark and wild place.

The skies over Maine’s North Woods are an increasingly rare treasure where the Milky Way is visible from horizon to horizon. They must be protected for our children and grandchildren, many of whom have already lost the connection to the Universe one is afforded through a view of the night sky.

I urge Sen. Angus King to help the nation accept the incredible gift proposed by Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., and create a national park and recreation area to conserve the natural beauty and dark skies of Maine.

The park would combine conservation with economic development in a region dependent on a shrinking number of mills that continue to leave Maine people in the dark.

Robyn McCutcheon