The proposal for the Maine Woods National Park should be passed so that we can promote sustainable recreation and further protection of endangered Canada lynx habitat.

As Maine residents, we all understand and value private land ownership. I do not want to give up our state lands to the will of the federal government. However, I feel that we as the state of Maine cannot effectively protect and manage the land and species of our North Woods.

Currently, the Canada lynx is undergoing a five-year review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if it should remain designated as a threatened species. The Canada lynx population has fallen in Maine from 1,000 individuals a few years ago to now around 500 to 750 ghost cats.

In Maine, the Canada lynx population has fallen as a result of accidental trapping deaths and habitat loss from selective logging in the North Woods. In regards to the former problems, they will be remedied through the national park designation.

The proposed Maine Woods National Park would designate 3.2 million acres of land to be federally protected and managed. The designated park area would encompass much of the critical Canada lynx habitat in Maine.

The majority of the Canada lynx’s critical habitat is privately owned at the moment, which has created a management and conservation nightmare. If this land changes hands from private to public national parklands, we will be able to adequately protect and manage the dwindling Maine population of the Canada lynx.

In addition to protecting our threatened species, the Maine Woods National Park will promote sustainable and monitored recreation. Our Maine Woods National Park will be the Yellowstone of the East and positively stimulate our local economy through sustainable tourism.

Jerry Lerman

Winslow