Gov. Paul LePage was a guest co-host Tuesday on a Bangor radio talk show and used the opportunity to claim that big out-of-state interest groups are behind the move to create a national monument east of Baxter State Park.

LePage accused the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine of busing in people from southern Maine – presumably because they support a monument – to a forum last week at the University of Maine in Orono.

The Republican governor also accused monument advocates of using their “henchmen” to search people’s purses and not allow opponents to park in spots designated for supporters.

Advocates for the monument disputed the assertions LePage made on George Hale and Ric Tyler’s show on WVOM-FM. Hale was on vacation.

LePage told Tyler that it was wrong for monument supporters to bus in people from Portland to help justify their position.

“Let the people in Portland, stay in Portland,” LePage said. “Let us in the 2nd District decide who and when we want a park.”


Elliotsville Plantation Inc., a nonprofit foundation established by Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby, wants to donate 87,500 acres of privately owned land east of Baxter State Park to the federal government and establish a $40 million endowment to maintain it.

The foundation, which is overseen by a board of directors and led by Quimby’s son, Lucas St. Clair, hopes that a designation of the land as a national monument could eventually lead to a national park there.

LePage opposes a monument designation by President Obama because he feels it could hurt Maine’s forest products industry and infringe on traditional outdoor activities. During his radio appearance, he called the campaign an “ego booster” for Quimby.

A president can designate national monuments by executive order. The head of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, was in East Millinocket and Orono on May 16 to hear public comments.

David Farmer, a spokesman for Elliotsville Plantation, countered the claims LePage made on the radio show.

Farmer said fewer than 200 of the 1,200 attendees at the Orono event arrived on buses.


Security professionals prevented signs, food and computers from being brought inside the event, which is not unusual for such a large crowd, according to Farmer. He said there was plenty of parking for all attendees.

LePage criticized the Natural Resources Council of Maine for supporting the monument proposal, saying big foundations from around the country are supporting the organization and “keeping Maine people poor.”

Farmer said the governor’s claims about out-of-state interests pushing for a national monument are false. He said the foundation is based in Maine and is dedicated to land conservation.

“It is not true what he is saying. He is painting a picture that he wants people to see, but that is not reality,” Farmer said Tuesday night. “He is trying to spin a tale about outside forces influencing the decision that are just not true.”

LePage also said that the Natural Resources Council “in particular is doing everything it can to oppose jobs in Maine.”

Lisa Pohlmann, the group’s executive director, called LePage’s comments “total nonsense” and said the 57-year-old organization has thousands of Maine members.


Pohlmann said hundreds of residents in the Katahdin region support the proposed monument designation because it would protect the land while helping to rebuild an economy hit by the loss of several paper mills.

Opponents, meanwhile, have expressed concerns about restrictions on logging and recreational activities like hunting or fishing.

LePage on Tuesday said it would be years until a new national park “ever achieves the status” of Acadia National Park, and added that the federal government is billions of dollars behind in national park maintenance.

The governor added: “If you look around the country where the major forest fires come, they come from federal land.”

Much of the 640 million acres of land owned by the federal government are in drought-stricken Western states.

A House congressional committee on June 1 will hear from area residents at the East Millinocket town office. Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of the 2nd District requested the field hearing.

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