The conservation of land surrounding Baxter State Park is obviously a good thing, and I am 100 percent in favor of protecting Maine’s North Woods. But the current national monument proposal has left me wondering: Will the designation further protect Baxter State Park, or will it lead to the degradation of the park’s resources?

Past conservation successes surrounding the park have protected working forests in the form of conservation easements, public reserves such as the Nahmakanta and private reserves such as the Nature Conservancy’s Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area. These projects have, in one way or another, buffered the park from unwanted impacts and development.

A national monument designation will guarantee a substantial increase in visitation to the Katahdin region. How will Baxter State Park’s resources and the visitor’s experience be affected if 15 percent of Acadia’s 3 million annual visitors venture north?

What happens when a fraction of these 450,000 visitors view Katahdin from the proposed loop road, realize that the mountain is not in the national monument and decide to visit Baxter?

What will the impacts be to the roads, trails, campgrounds and wildlife of the park if visitation doubles in the coming years? And does Baxter State Park have the human and financial resources to manage such an increase in visitation?

There are several successful conservation strategies and options that can protect Maine’s North Woods. I am concerned that a national monument designation may fundamentally change the resource we are trying to protect.

Todd Devenish