Lucas St. Clair is the president of Elliotsville Plantation, a private nonprofit organization that owns 87,500 acres in Northern Maine just east of Baxter State Park. Elliotsville is seeking to donate the land to the federal government for creation of a Maine Woods National Monument. St. Clair is the son of Roxanne Quimby, the wealthy philanthropist who purchased the land and created Elliotsville Plantation. St. Clair discussed with Acadia on My Mind the bid for a national monument, how Acadia National Park inspired the proposal, as well as the foundation’s plans to donate more than 60 acres on Mount Desert Island to Acadia this year. St. Clair is among those invited to speak during a U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources hearing at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, at the East Millinocket Town Office, according to a memo by the committee. The committee is chaired by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican. [Livestream hearing]
What makes the land special that it qualifies for national monument status?
Lucas St. Clair: There’s many, many things. The ecosystem has lots of flora and fauna that only live in this part of Maine. It is a unique part of the national landscape. It is a Northern Hardwood Forest and is not well represented in the National Park System. This landscape influenced the birth of America’s conservation movement through Henry David Thoreau and Theodore Roosevelt. The understanding of plate tectonics from a geologic standpoint was proven on this landscape by a USGS geologist in the 1950s. It has three incredible watersheds – the east branch of the Penobscot River, Seboeis Stream and the Wassataquoik Stream. And incredible views of Mount Katahdin. It acts as a climate refuge and it is also a very important piece of landscape for the Wabanaki people.
What are the main reasons you want to create a national monument?
St. Clair: To protect a resource that offers all of the things I just described and beyond that, to bring economic benefits to the Katahdin region, a region that needs economic revitalization and a diversified economy. National parks have been proven to do that all across the country.
Are we at a crucial time in the process with President Obama leaving office at the end of the year?
St. Clair: It’s the centennial of the National Park Service and these communities are not getting any better. From an economic standpoint, we are at a very crucial time. We are at a crucial time to revitalize the economy of the Katahdin region. Continue reading