Although I sympathize with some in Maine’s North Woods who oppose a national park in the vicinity of Baxter State Park, I firmly support this park project. Raised and a lifelong teacher in Maine, like many, I yearn for the “good old days” and am unhappy with aspects of federal regulations. I, too, long to preserve a way of life that no longer exists.

Like many Mainers, I am extraordinarily grateful to Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. to gift the federal government and Maine 87,000 acres and generously establish a $40 million endowment to preserve this beautiful land in the proximity of Baxter State Park. Nevertheless, I have two concerns that need to be addressed prior to the acceptance of this gift.

1. Include the indigenous people of Maine on the panel that debates the ramifications of the park. After all, these lands are sacred to the Penobscots. Their lands were taken illegally by the state of Maine, yet their voice remains unheard.

2. Strict zoning regulations, accompanied by well-designed regional planning, must be adopted to prevent blatant disregard of the region’s natural environment. The lack of such planning is evidenced as all witness on driving to Acadia National Park: strip malls, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, chain and private hotels, motels and restaurants, lobster shacks, along with traffic jams.

I am, however, saddened that this generous gift to preserve forever our cherished North Woods has become a political football taken up by Gov. LePage and his administration. Their intention is to undermine this vital project for Maine’s posterity and prosperity.

We, the people of Maine, have a rare opportunity to break through this deadlock by uniting behind the effort to establish a North Woods National Park for the good of all.

David O. Solmitz