U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is asking a House committee to visit Maine to hear from Katahdin-area residents as the Obama administration considers a proposed North Woods national monument.

Poliquin’s request, submitted Friday to the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, came three days before the director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, is scheduled to visit the region and hold a public meeting on the national monument issue. In his letter to Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the 2nd District Republican wrote that he fears the “strong concerns from these local constituents that I represent from the Katahdin Region are being ignored outright by the Obama Administration in this process.”

“I respectfully request that the House Natural Resources Committee hold an official congressional field hearing in Maine’s Katahdin Region,” Poliquin wrote. “I hope this opportunity would allow you and your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to tour the area and hear directly from local residents, businesses and officials on the prospect of a unilateral designation of a national monument by the White House in Maine’s North Woods.”

But David Farmer, spokesman for Elliotsville Plantation Inc., which has proposed donating 87,500 acres east of Baxter State Park for the national monument, countered that Poliquin was out of touch with his district on a project that has support statewide, including in the Katahdin region.

“Rural Maine has suffered huge job losses,” Farmer said. “He has an opportunity to see a $100 million investment in his district that will create hundreds of jobs. But he is doing everything he can to stand in the way.”

Even if the committee grants Poliquin’s request, Congress lacks the authority to prevent the White House from accepting conservationist Roxanne Quimby’s offer to donate land east of Baxter State Park for a national monument. That’s because federal law gives presidents the authority to create national monuments through executive action, unlike national parks, which must be approved by Congress.


Poliquin and other members of Congress have been pushing to curtail a president’s authority to unilaterally create national monuments.

U.S. Sen. Angus King’s office released additional details of Jarvis’ planned meetings in Maine on Monday.

Jarvis will meet with elected officials from seven Katahdin region towns from noon to 2 p.m. at the Katahdin Region Higher Education Center in East Millinocket. The meeting is open to the public. From 5 to 8 p.m., King will host a public forum with Jarvis at the University of Maine in Orono. With parties on both sides of the issue working to turn out supporters for the Orono meeting, organizers opted to move the venue from UMaine’s Hauck Auditorium to the Collins Center for the Arts in order to accommodate the crowd.

Lucas St. Clair, president of Elliotsville Plantation Inc. and Quimby’s son, will give a presentation on the proposal at the meeting. Additionally, Dan Sakura of the National Park Foundation will “briefly discuss the facts of how the foundation intends to financially support the proposal,” according to a news release from King’s office. Although King is moderating the meeting, his office said the National Park Service requested that both St. Clair and Sakura be given time to speak at the meeting.

Jarvis will then field questions and hear comments from the public.

Quimby, an entrepreneur and conservationist who has purchased large blocks of Maine’s North Woods, serves with Jarvis on the board of directors of the National Park Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the park service. In his letter to the committee chairman, Poliquin suggested a collusion between Quimby and the Obama administration when he wrote that “it has become all but certain that the land owner and its expensive Washington lobbyists are working closely with the White House to make such a designation.”

Poliquin’s letter provides more evidence of the political overtones of the debate over a North Woods national monument. Gov. Paul LePage, a vocal opponent of Quimby’s proposal who has talked recently of running against King in 2018, accused King of “ignoring the will of Mainers” by inviting Jarvis to the state.

King’s office responded that the senator continues to harbor his own serious concerns about a national monument designation but invited Jarvis so he could “hear directly from Mainers firsthand about this issue because an open and public dialogue is necessary.”


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